While one of Chicago’s vaunted core is apparently closing in on a return to playing at the United Center, another piece of that core could be on his way out of town.
According to a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, there are “rumblings” of a potential trade that would send Duncan Keith west.
Here’s the full tweet from Friedman:
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
Keith turns 38 next month and just finished his 16th NHL season — all with the Blackhawks. He’s under contract for two more seasons at an annual cap hit of $5,538,462, although the base salary is just $2.1 million next season and $1.5 million in the season after that, which could soften the financial blow for any team who acquires the veteran blue-liner. Keith signed that 13-year, $72 million deal on Dec. 3, 2009, just before Keith started racking up career hardware that includes three Stanley Cup titles, two Norris Trophies and the 2015 Conn Smythe award. He’s as much of a lock for the Hall of Fame as there is in the hockey world.
Keith grew up in Ontario before his family moved to British Columbia when Keith was 15. And Keith’s desire to go west now could be tied to those roots, as Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times mentioned in this tweet:
Keith’s family lives in Penticton, BC, and his son stayed there this season. As his career winds down, it would make sense he’d want to be closer to family.— Ben Pope (@BenPopeCST) June 30, 2021
Trading Keith would also open up a protection spot, allowing the Hawks to protect Murphy, Zadorov AND Stillman.
But Keith also doesn’t necessarily fit with Chicago’s current philosophy of focusing on its younger talent. Players like Adam Boqvist and Ian Mitchell and Wyatt Kalynuk are already at the NHL level, while more like Alec Regula and Alex Vlasic could be making their own NHL leaps within the next year or two. Trading Keith away could open yet another spot on the blue line and offer expanded ice time at 5-on-5 play along with on Chicago’s special teams units.
Keith’s trade would also give Chicago additional salary cap flexibility, which may factor in with another piece of news that emerged on Wednesday. In the latest article of TSN’s “Insider Trading” series, reporter Darren Dreger wrote that the Blackhawks are expected to be aggressive in pursuing a quality defenseman.
I do know that GM Stan Bowman is trying to add an elite-level defenseman, such as Dougie Hamilton, who is a pending unrestricted free agent. Hamilton’s agent has permission to speak to other clubs right now to try and work something out with the Carolina Hurricanes. And, of course, we have the potential of Seth Jones as well, who is in the final year of his deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jones has told the Blue Jackets he is not interested in signing long term. Obviously, Chicago among many teams would love to get their hands on Jones but Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen intends on making his decision on his future closer to the 2021 NHL Draft.
Stay tuned on this one.