It’s no secret that the Chicago Blackhawks are undergoing a slight rebuild to their lineup. Last season saw an influx of young talent play in all areas of the lineup. Most seemed to be ready to take the team to the next step. However, there are still plenty of veterans on the team from the dynasty era. Oldest of all the remaining players is Duncan Keith who, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, is on the move.
The insider says that he is likely going out west to the Edmonton Oilers or the league’s 32nd team, the Seattle Kraken. Whichever team he ends up on, this trade will mean the true end to the Cup winning core in Chicago. Let’s take a look at how a Duncan Keith trade might look this summer for the Blackhawks.
How a Duncan Keith Trade May Go Down
There are rumblings Chicago is working on a potential Duncan Keith trade to either the Pacific Northwest or Western Canada. Word is Keith and team are working together to get him to a place he wants to go. We will see where this goes.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 30, 2021
How We Got Here
Keith is 37 years old and has two years remaining on a 13-year contract that he signed with the team. With a cap hit of $5.53 million, holding onto him isn’t easy. For example, over the last few seasons the veteran has taken a major decline in his on-ice play. Sure, he still plays over 23 minutes a night but he doesn’t play like he should be anymore. He’s lost his speed, he’s making more defensive errors than he should, and overall hasn’t been the most positive impact to the team’s on ice performance.
When Stan Bowman announced the team’s rebuild, Keith’s past might not have overlooked the present and future anymore. Unless you’re name is Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane, nobody truly is safe from being moved. Clearly Keith isn’t an exception to that rule.
Possible Deals With Edmonton Involving a Duncan Keith Trade
The Blackhawks are rumoured to be tied to Caleb Jones, brother to Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Seth Jones. Chicago is heavily tied to pursuing Seth, and having his younger brother might be the perfect piece of leverage to a trade or contract signing after this upcoming season. The Oilers are in desperate need of one, or more, good bottom- six pieces to make their lineup more dynamic. Luckily for them Chicago has a few of them that could be of use in Alberta.
Duncan Keith and Adam Gaudette go to Edmonton in exchange for Caleb Jones, a prospect, and draft picks. This deal gives Edmonton a young and impressionable top-nine forward in Gaudette, as well as Duncan Keith. Chicago gets Jones to play around in the lineup with, a prospect to develop and some draft stock for the future. Keith might not be the best blue liner, but he still is an important roster player that would need a prospect and draft stock in return in order for the trade scale to balance out.
Keith goes to Edmonton for the Oilers’ second round pick in 2022 and their third round pick in 2023, Chicago retains 15 percent of Keith’s salary. In receiving Keith, Edmonton gets an older, slower, more expensive defender on their team. Ken Holland, Edmonton’s general manager, might not like taking on all that cap for such little improvement in the roster. Giving up only draft picks, while still valuable, maximizes his player assets while still receiving defensive help.
Possible Deals With Seattle
The Kraken currently have no players on their roster, and can only negotiate expansion draft considerations and future draft picks. A trade with Seattle might not occur until well into the summer once they have their expansion roster selected and prospect pool started at the draft. Trading for Keith might not be enough to sway general manager Ron Francis from not taking a certain player from Chicago. However, receiving a proven locker room leader and still capable player will be good for year-one of Seattle’s existence.
A third or a fourth round pick might be the return for Chicago if a trade is made before the expansion draft. After, however, the return starts to look similar to what it is for Edmonton. A young roster defenceman, maybe a prospect, and some minor draft stock.
Chicago in The Post-Keith Era
Keith has been a staple on Chicago’s blue line for almost two decades. Going to the United Center to watch a game without the fan favourite defender might be a culture shock to some. Chicago without Keith from an on ice perspective, however, could be a positive thing. Keith’s departure means more defenceman, like Ian Mitchell, Alec Regula, and more young players can see meaningful time in the NHL. All of those shifts will likely prove beneficial and further the development of many of the team’s top defence prospects. Losing Keith might mean the end of an era, sure, but organizational progress is important to getting back to the team’s Cup winning days.