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Highly sought after college UFA Dan DeKeyser signs with Detroit Red Wings

Sean Leahy
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Western Michigan defenseman Dan DeKeyser could have left school and been 2012's hotly pursued college free agent. Instead, he decided to go back for one more season, playing in 35 games for the Broncos and was named first team All-CCHA and won the CCHA's Best Defensive Defenseman award for the second straight year.

With an impressive junior season under his belt, DeKeyser's stock rose even higher and was pitched to by just about all 30 NHL teams, but in the end the Detroit Red Wings won out for his services, inking the blueliner to a 2-year deal. The Red Wings did not disclose how much the contract is worth.

Here's a scouting report from Chris Peters of Eye on Hockey:

The 6-foot-3, 198-pound blueliner is a gifted two-way defender who excels in his own zone. He plays a simple, mature game, can play the body and makes a good first pass out of the zone. DeKeyser had two goals and 13 assists after two previous seasons of 17 points at the college level. He might have a little more offensive upside than his numbers suggest, but his defensive game is high end already.

Having spent the last two years under the tutelage of former NHL head coach Andy Murray and a year before that under Jeff Blashill, who left Western Michigan for a job with the Detroit Red Wings, DeKeyser is well schooled in what it takes to play at the next level. He clearly made the most of his extra year of development and all of the offers from last year are still there.

DeKeyser wouldn't be any team's savior. After all, he has no NHL experience and there would be some amount of adjustment. He's a good player who has an NHL skill set and he would almost certainly help a team right now though. What makes him so intriguing is that every single team in the league has a chance to make a valuable acquisition without sparing any more than a maximum entry-level contract.

DeKeyser is from Michigan, so it was no surprise that the Red Wings were considered the favorites all along. Also consider the connections he had between playing at WMU for Jeff Blasshill, a former Red Wings assistant coach, and having played youth hockey with the son of assistant GM Jim Nill.

According to Helene St. James of the Free Press, DeKeyser will join the Red Wings immediately, but won't play Sunday against the Blackhawks.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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