Just as rumors continue to spread that the Blackhawks are “trying to add” a defenseman this offseason, they may be simultaneously orchestrating the trade of one already on the roster.
Duncan Keith is the subject of the latest “rumblings,” for a trade to the Pacific Northwest or Western Canada, a geographic location to which he’s been connected before:
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
NOTE: Keith’s season ended earlier than expected this year, after taking a knee to the face from a Hurricanes linesman on May 6th. He missed the rest of the game after the first period and was diagnosed with a season-ending concussion. We haven’t really heard any news about that until now. Alas, it’s not bad news for Keith, but it could be for Blackhawks fans.
Keith, 37, has been with the Blackhawks for his entire career, including all three championships. And although his All-star and James Norris trophy days are behind him, he’s still an important figure in Blackhawks franchise history. Heck, he’s the longest tenured player on the team. But perhaps as a youth movement sweeps through Chicago (precisely as the team explores other defensive options (little bit of chicken and the egg there)), Keith is ready to move on? And the Blackhawks are doing their best to accommodate? That’s the vibe from the wording of the report, at least.
Along those lines, note that Keith, signed through the 2022-23 season at $5.538M, has a full no movement clause. So not only is he pricey relative to his production, the team will be limited in their options by Keith’s preferences (again, that seems to be the point (and he’s certainly earned that right)). Perhaps this is a way to trade him to the Seattle Kraken so they don’t take a higher-end player in the expansion draft? I’m just spit-balling. It really could be as simple as it’s his time to move on.
(Middle of the post update): Indeed.
— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) June 30, 2021
In any case, it’s fitting that the day the Blackhawks get one legend and fan favorite back in Jonathan Toews, another could be on the move. Mario will have more for you as this story develops. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, here’s a little more on the defense, in general, from Mario’s recent mailbag:
The defensive pairings for the Blackhawks moving forward into 2021-22 are really hard to figure out with the uncertainty of Nikita Zadorov and what may happen in the Seattle Expansion Draft. If I were Stan Bowman, I wouldn’t be re-signing Nikita Zadorov for the money he is likely going to be asking for this offseason. In that case, and factoring in that Chicago exposes him and Seattle takes Calvin de Haan in the Expansion Draft, this is how I would set the defensive lineup for the Blackhawks starting next season:
Duncan Keith – Adam Boqvist
Riley Stillman – Connor Murphy
Wyatt Kalynuk – Nicolas Beaudin
It would be fantastic if the Blackhawks could manage to sign Dougie Hamilton this offseason, but they will have to out-bid half the league in the free agent market. Landing Hamilton would give the Blackhawks legit No.1 defenseman in their organization, and allow Duncan Keith to reduce his minutes and be more effective without having to play 25-26 minutes a game at 38-years-old.
And some additional context:
Duncan Keith, potentially headed to Western Canada in a trade, has had a very difficult past few seasons playing big minutes for the Blackhawks. To say the least. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/dM1iiRHaet
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) June 30, 2021