Detroit Red Wings: Predicting the defensive pairings in 2021-22

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Detroit Red Wings, Filip Hronek
(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

I expect Danny DeKeyser to be paired with Filip Hronek for the Detroit Red Wings to begin the 2021 season.

If I’m being candid, I’m not convinced Danny DeKeyser can be a reliable second-pairing defender anymore.  This is just a way for Blashill to lengthen out his defense core.  DeKeyser has struggled to remain healthy over the past few seasons, and he has not totaled 70 or more games since 2016-17 and has only accomplished that feat three times during his career.

Last season DeKeyser was able to remain healthy for the most part appearing in 47 of Detroit’s 56 contests, so that is a step in the right direction.  This after appearing in just eight-game the year prior.

The soon-to-be 32-year old left-handed defender never lived up to his overall potential but had bright days where he seemed to be growing into a top-four role.  Although the Detroit Red Wings are deeper on the backend today than they’ve been in recent years, DeKeyser will still be asked to play north of 20-minutes per game, but I feel he’s best suited as a sixth defender playing in the 16-minute neighborhood.

DeKeyser averaged 18:06 minutes per game last season and totaled 12 points while maintaining a Corsi For Percentage of 43.6.  Throughout his career, the veteran defender has averaged a touch over 21-minutes per game; those days should be few and far between moving forward.

I do believe DeKeyser, when healthy, is the perfect partner for Filip Hronek.  Hronek is an offensive-minded defender that likes to jump up and join the rush, at times leading the charge.  DeKeyser is a smooth skater but tends to gravitate towards being a sound defender rather than helping out in the offensive zone.

I do feel the two complement each other well.

Hronek led the Detroit Red Wings with 26 points in 56 games last season (not taking account for Jakub Vrana’s Washington numbers).  Hronek averaged 23:23 per game and carried a 48.3 CF% in 2020-21.

It wouldn’t shock me to see Hronek, along with the newly acquired Nick Leddy, lead the Detroit Red Wings in ice-time this season, but I expect they will be split up in hopes of balancing out Detroit’s lineup.