Red Wings land Danny DeKeyser

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings were long considered the frontrunner for hockey's best college free agent and on Friday, Detroit closed the deal.

Western Michigan University defenseman Danny DeKeyser signed a two-year deal with the Red Wings after a week spent listening to pitches from teams around the league. The Flyers, Lightning, Sharks, Ducks, Flames and Oilers were among the many teams interested in signing DeKeyser before he picked Detroit.

After a third season of college hockey, there are plenty of people around the league who believe the 23-year-old is ready to compete in the NHL immediately.

The 6-foot-3 DeKeyser grew up in metro Detroit, and graduated from Warren De La Salle High School. He also played youth hockey with Trevor Nill, the son of Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill.

"I've know him since midget," Nill told ESPN The Magazine last year. "He's a very good skater, very strong defensively. He does a good job of defending. Makes the smart first pass."

According to Red Wings GM Ken Holland, DeKeyser will be at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday for practice.

DeKeyser surprised some by returning to Western Michigan for this season but used the extra time in college to add size and strength. In 35 games this season, DeKeyser had two goals and 13 assists.