Happy Friday, ya’ll! Are you ready for a day full of arguing over Duncan Keith’s trade value and role with the Blackhawks? Yay!
Since the initial tweet from Elliotte Friedman about the trade “rumblings” involving Duncan Keith, the online discourse around the future Hall of Famer has been a mix of his legendary status in Chicago and the fact that he is a past-prime defender who has been forced to play 24-27 minutes a night because the Blackhawks don’t have any better options on their blue-line.
• My first thought is always going to be that Keith is an absolute King in the Blackhawks’ franchise history. If you’re putting together a modern era Mount Rushmore of Blackhawks, he’s on it 100% of the time. His sweater will be retired. No one will ever wear No. 2 ever again for Chicago. First-ballot Hockey Hall-of-Famer. All of that is true.
• And at the same time, he can also be 37-years-old, turning 38 in two weeks, with the best of his playing career behind him. He can also be a guy who is being asked to play over his abilities by a team that has done nothing to help him for the past handful of seasons. For instance, look at who Keith has had to play with for the majority of the time in the last few years…
Duncan Keith’s most common defensive partners since 2017 have been Jordan Oesterle, Erik Gustafsson, Cody Franson, Adam Boqvist(R), Henri Jokijarju (R), Ian Mitchell (R), Connor Murphy, and the corpse of Brent Seabrook.
— Puckin’ Hostile (@PuckinHostile) July 1, 2021
• Outside of Connor Murphy, Keith has had to essentially babysit his defensive partners while also playing on the powerplay and penalty-kill and playing upwards of 20-minutes of 5v5 hockey a night. When he was two-time Norris trophy winner Duncan Keith, no problem. But after emptying his tank for the 2015 Stanley Cup, Keith hasn’t been the same player he once was. His analytical number have suffered in recent seasons and I attribute a lot of that to the fact that he’s a 16-18 minutes per game No. 4 defenseman playing in a 24-26 minutes per game No. 1 defenseman role.
• He has earned the right to guide his own career. If at this point in time, he doesn’t want to potentially waste his final years in Chicago on non-contending teams, and wants to play his final seasons closer to home, he has fully earned the right to do that.
• With the Blackhawks and Keith reportedly looking at trade options, specifically with the goal of landing Keith in the Pacific Northwest, the options to replace him are opening up again for Chicago. All offseason, the Blackhawks have been linked to big name defensemen available this summer like Dougie Hamilton and Seth Jones. Now it appears that they are pushing more chips to the center of the table.
• In a recent article on The Athletic, Blue Jackets writer Aaron Protzline put together possible trade packages that would land Seth Jones…
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) July 1, 2021
• The Blackhawks’ package consists of Lukas Reichel, Philipp Kurashev, Nicolas Beaudin, and the 2022 first-round pick for Chicago.
• HARD PASS.
• I like Beaudin and Kurashev as complimentary young pieces to the Blackhawks rebuilding process. Reichel is potentially an impact forward that could slot into the Blackhawks’ future plans in their top-six forwards group of the future. The 2022 first-round pick is a wild card. It could be in the middle of the pack, a lottery draw, or outside of the lottery if the Blackhawks have another surprisingly competitive season in 2021-22.
• All of that for Jones? I’m not into it. Losing that for the addition of Jones isn’t the kind of net-gain the Blackhawks need to have in any trade this offseason. I’d rather they try to keep all of those pieces in the proposed Jones trade package and go all-in for Dougie Hamilton in free agency.
• Elsewhere in Blackhawks-land today, a Happy 46th Birthday to the great “what-if” of the Blackhawks, Eric Daze!
— Bleacher Nation Blackhawks (@BN_Blackhawks) July 2, 2021
• Yesterday we made mention of Canada Day, which is basically equivalent to the Fourth of July here in the U.S. But with the uncovering of thousands of unmarked graves of indigenous people, mostly children, around Canadian residential schools, the day was a bit more subdued in celebration than in previous years. Chicago Blackhawks head coach and Albertan Jeremy Colliton spoke about the recent discoveries and Canada Day on Twitter…
• Colliton is one of the youngest coaches in the NHL and one of the few that I see using social media. It’s impressive to see him with a message like this. It’s refreshing honesty.
• Shifting gears to the Stanley Cup Final, which now heads to Canada, the Montreal Canadiens host the Tampa Bay Lightning for Game Three tonight, down 0-2 in the series.
• Tampa Bay dominated Game One and won. Montreal dominated Game Two and lost. If they are going to have ANY chance in making the Cup Final a competitive series, Game Three is a must-win for the Habs.
• While they were denied the opportunity to expand fan capacity in the Bell Centre, the 3,500 fans will be rocking for the Canadiens as they make their return to playing in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since winning the Cup in 1993.
• Being down 0-2 in the series is going to be a serious mountain to climb, as only 10% of the teams that have found themselves down 0-2 in Stanley Cup Final history have come back to win the series. They’ll also have to overcome Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has only allowed two goals over his last three games.
• Good luck, Habs.
• Finally, a note on the league. It was announced this week that the NHL is bringing in Josh Richards, a person of TikTok fame, to be the “voice of the fans” in an effort to grow the game in the younger demographic. Here’s a quick synopsis of Richards from a person in that demographic…
Asked my teenager for a scouting report on the tik tok kid the NHL is working with. She said he was “cringe” and “problematic”, then told me he made a diss track at which point her eyes rolled so far into her head that they made slot machine noises.
— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) July 1, 2021
• A quick google search for Josh Richards last night showed me:
He has a very large following on TikTok, with which I’m not familiar.
He co-hosts a Barstool podcast.
He is the Chief Strategy Officer for Triller. Whatever that is.
He is from Toronto and claims to be a Maple Leafs fans.
On his first day in the new role with the NHL, he said “F*ck the Habs.”
• So we are off and running with another great idea from the league.
• I’m not the smartest person in the room and I also do not claim to be the most hip with the kids these days, but if this was the route the NHL wanted to go to reach a younger fan base, it really feels like they could have picked someone not so “cringe” and “problematic.” Just my two cents.
• That’ll do it for today. Enjoy your TGIF Friday!