Much like last season, a free agent defenseman is all the rage among NCAA players who are being courted by NHL clubs looking to find that diamond in the rough who went undrafted and is now ready to turn pro.
Last season it was Justin Schultz (above) who selected Edmonton as his destination of choice. Although Schultz was drafted by the Ducks, he failed to reach a deal with Anaheim and became an unrestricted free agent after his final college season. This year’s top prize appears to be Western Michigan junior Danny DeKeyser. The Michigan native who spent some time in the BCHL and USHL before going to the NCAA is 6’3″, 180 lbs and put up almost 40 points in 3 seasons in the NCAA.
DeKeyser is a talented defenseman who many consider ready for the NHL right now. He is 23, so he has to be considered a late bloomer, which explains why he wasn’t drafted.
Like Schultz last year, DeKeyser is represented by Newport SportsManagement, the same group that represents Schultz. As a result, this week the defenseman will be holding court much the same way Schultz did last year.
So what are Ottawa’s chances to land the coveted free agent? They are not considered the front-runners, but Bryan Murray has had some success in wooing NCAA free agents (Jesse Winchester, Bobby Butler, Stephane Da Costa) and they were the runners-up in the bidding for Schultz. No doubt Murray and Co. will be in the mix, but
Some think top contenders for DeKeyser are DET, STL, ANA and EDM but multiple teams have high interest. PHI and OTT will be pushing hard too
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March 24, 2013
So there is hope for the Senators yet, although the smart money is on the Red Wings, as he is a Michigan native. While these types of signings are always a crap shoot, the Schultz one worked out OK for the Oilers, and the Leafs can’t complain about what Tyler Bozak has become, although that one took some more time to come to fruition.
The presentations and courting will apparently take place this Tuesday and Wednesday in Toronto.