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Danny DeKeyser Needs to Earn His Spot with the Detroit Red Wings

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | On Friday, March 29, the Detroit Red Wings won the Danny DeKeyser sweepstakes.

The former Western Michigan defenseman signed a 2-year deal with the Red Wings, and already started practicing with the team on Saturday, March 30.

Let me start off by saying I like this move, but I think he needs to earn his roster spot with the Red Wings.

DeKeyser is 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, who is a great two-way defender and plays a mature game, according to Chris Peters of Eye on Hockey. DeKeyser had 12 goals and 38 assists in 118 career games with the Broncos.

He is a great pickup that will help the Red Wings rebuild on the blue line after the loss of Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart.

However, what I don't like is that he could be in the lineup for the Red Wings at some point during the season. Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said whether or not DeKeyser plays will be up to coach Mike Babcock.

This is a good sign as the Red Wings realize the importance of winning games, and are in no rush to put DeKeyser in the lineup with the playoffs on the line.

In a perfect world, DeKeyser would start out with the Red Wings' AHL affiliate -- the Grand Rapids Griffins -- and prove himself before he is inserted into the Red Wings lineup.

However, with the Red Wings trading defenseman Kent Huskins to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, March 30 for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2014, Detroit made room for DeKeyser on the 23-man roster.

Like I said before, I like DeKeyser, and I think he will be a great defenseman in the future. I'm just not comfortable putting him in the lineup this year.

The Red Wings always have over ripened their players, making sure they are fully developed in the AHL before giving them playing time in the NHL. That philosophy hasn't been upheld as much this year as a rash of injuries required players to be called up faster than Ken Holland would have liked.

But the speculation is DeKeyser wanted a guaranteed roster spot, and the Red Wings probably wouldn't have gotten him had they not guaranteed that.

Whether or not DeKeyser plays this year, I think he should start out with the Griffins next year and work his way up to the Red Wings like every one else has had to. Let him gain some experience in the AHL before getting a roster spot with the Red Wings.

There are very few players who can jump from college or juniors, and start making an impact at the NHL level. There is talk of DeKeyser being one of those NHL-ready players, but players with high expectations can fall short.

Ryan Leaf, Charles Rogers and Joey Harrington were among a number of players with high expectations that never worked out.

Yes, I realize these players played a different sport and were drafted unlike DeKeyser, but the point is players with high expectations don't always pan out.

The Red Wings definitely took a step in the right direction as far as rebuilding on the blue line, but DeKeyser needs to see some AHL action before he has a secure spot with the Red Wings.

Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter @tom_mitsos.

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