The defense is easily the greatest weakness of a Red Wings team that’s been fighting it out the last few seasons to squeeze into playoffs to preserve their impressive post-season streak. Dekeyser has been a very valuable contributor on a team that lacks a true work horse to play against the opponent’s best players, thrusting him into a top pairing role early in his young career. He played the most minutes of any Wings player in the playoffs.
Ken Holland was in a difficult situation with a player close to UFA status. Looking at the age 26 contract comparables below, Dekeyser is getting Seabrook/Byfuglien money (in the $5M AAV range), and more money than recently comparable deals by Vlasic and Muzzin (in the $4M AAV range). He’s not better than any of those guys, which does make his contract look like an over-payment. It is too much money, but he’s too much better than anyone in Grand Rapids to lose him.
For better or worse, he has become their number 1 defenseman. That's not very promising is you are a Wings fan looking into the future. Nobody in the system is anywhere near good enough to be a legit top defenseman. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall during the negotiations, because Dekeyser's agent hit a grand slam home run.