Blackhawks Mailbag: Duncan Keith, Bold Moves, Expansion Draft and More

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Blackhawks Mailbag: Duncan Keith, Bold Moves, Expansion Draft and More

Chicago Blackhawks

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Fourth of July holiday week/weekend. And I also hope you are all doing well getting back into the work week. Took me a few hours this morning.

Anyway, thanks to the holiday weekend, the Monday Mailbag has been pushed to today, so hope you all enjoy this Monday Mailbag on Tuesday edition. Love the questions this week!

With that in mind, we’ll dive into this week’s batch of questions.

Remember, you can send in questions on Twitter using the hashtag #BNHawksMailbag or email them to us at Mario.Tirabassi at bleachernation dot com. Send them anytime about the Blackhawks or the IceHogs or the NHL Draft or Free agency and everything in-between this offseason.

Question 1: Who will be the Blackhawks MVP, ROY next year? – @chiguy8506 (Twitter)

It’s usually hard to predict because anything can happen in a season like injuries or slumps, or surprising breakouts. But in the case of the Chicago Blackhawks, you can likely pencil-in Patrick Kane to be the Team MVP, almost every season. With the return of Jonathan Toews and what we can expect to be a fully healthy Kirby Dach, the load on Kane’s shoulders should be lighter than it was in 2020-21. But even with that said, I’ll still give my preseason vote to him.

As far as rookie of the year, who knows? We’re still not entirely sure who will make-up the roster once the season starts. As it stands right now, it looks like Lukas Reichel will be the only rookie on the NHL roster to start the season. That could change, but seems less likely. Last year was a crazy year for the Blackhawks, playing so many rookies and players still getting their feet wet in the NHL. Unless there’s another breakout from a rookie next season like we saw from Kevin Lankinen or Brandon Hagel in 2020-21, the simple answer is Reichel.

Question 2: Will the Hawks sign a veteran netminder? – @Mike_BHawks37 (Twitter)

We’ll see what happens in the Seattle Expansion Draft. There’s a chance that either of Malcolm Subban or Collin Delia could be selected by the Kraken. We learned today that Ivan Nalimov will be heading back to the KHL as well. So that could end up being two goalies in the system that won’t be available to Chicago next season. They signed young Swedish goaltender Arvid Söderblom to a two-year deal already this summer and without the taxi squad next season, it’s likely that Chicago only carries two goalies in the NHL. If Subban and Delia survive the Expansion Draft, I find it less likely that the Blackhawks sign a veteran goaltender. There’s also the chance that the Blackhawks may acquire Mikko Koskinen from the Oilers in a potential Duncan Keith trade, but we’ll talk about that in a second.

Question 3: What are three bold (and realistic) moves you would make as GM this offseason to get the Hawks back to contenders? – @BV_1109 (Twitter)

•   Trade Duncan Keith, likely retaining salary, and try to add a mid-round pick or mid-level prospect in the return for him.

•   Throw a max deal at Dougie Hamilton. If that falls through, target Zach Hyman and Joel Armia in free agency.

•   Trade Dylan Strome the minute he starts to look like a competent top-nine forward option, if that happens again.

Question 4: What is a possible price for Duncan Keith? – @chiguy8506 (Twitter)

We’ve seen a different number of potential deals. Some make sense, some wildly overvaluing/devaluing Keith’s abilities and potential to contribute. An idea I heard recently regarding a deal that makes sense for both Keith and the Blackhawks, would be for Chicago to retain salary on Keith, but find a third team in the deal to retain another portion of his salary and make his cap hit much more affordable to the team acquiring him, which in this case may end up being the Edmonton Oilers. If the Blackhawks can go to the Oilers with a trading partner in a three-team deal, Chicago could end up getting at least a mid-round pick and/or a mid-level prospect in the process.

I find it highly unlikely that the Blackhawks acquire anything of immediate value to them in a deal involving JUST Duncan Keith. What I do not want to happen is that the Blackhawks make a deal to move Keith and to do so, they have to throw in picks or prospects to make it work. For Chicago, it’s better they retain salary on Keith so they can also retain their useful draft capital and prospects. They are still rebuilding, after all.

Question 5: With Toews coming back, Dach being healthy, the addition of Henrik Borgstrom, the unlikelihood of the Hawks trading low on Strome, Suter showing he can play center at a quality level, and the existence of other center options like Gaudette, Reichel, Kurashev, Entwhistle and Barratt, why would the Hawks even consider protecting Kampf in the expansion draft? Are his ability to play above average defense and win faceoffs that valuable? I get that outside of Toews they don’t have another center who is proven to be good at those two things, but is that enough to justify protecting Kampf? – Kevin W. (Email)

You kind of answer your own question at the end there, Kevin. Without Toews last season, Kämpf was the only centerman that the Blackhawks had when they needed a face-off win. That can’t happen again. Yes, Toews coming back helps the Blackhawks at the dot, but he cannot come back and be the only guy who can win draws and be used on the penalty-kill. Kämpf’s ability to do both of those things are his biggest value.

At the same time, they are his biggest value to the Blackhawks, but not necessarily make him that valuable outside of the organization in terms of protection in the Seattle Expansion Draft. If the Kraken get to the Blackhawks in the Expansion Draft and they have the option of Calvin de Haan, Malcolm Subban, Collin Delia, Adam Gaudette, or David Kämpf, I’d be willing to roll the dice that Kämpf would not be the player selected from that group. With Alex Nylander not needing protection in the Expansion Draft, the forwards group was given more flexibility, but leaving Kämpf exposed shouldn’t leave the Blackhawks clutching their pearls.

That’ll do it for this edition of the Monday Mailbag! We’ll be doing this all offseason and maybe even into the regular season as we get closer to the start of the 2021-22 year. Be sure to send in questions on Twitter using #BNHawksMailbag or emailing them to Mario.Tirabassi at bleachernation dot com.

Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.