Which teams make sense for Duncan Keith?

Duncan Keith
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Could Duncan Keith‘s time with the Chicago Blackhawks be coming to an end?

According to a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Wednesday, there are “rumblings” that the Blackhawks are working with Keith to potentially trade him to a place he would like to go to, specifically the Pacific Northwest or Western Canada.

Keith, who has a no-trade clause and can dictate where and when he gets traded to, is from Western Canada.

This would be significant because Keith has been a core member of the Blackhawks for 16 seasons and a cornerstone of their three Stanley Cup winning teams. Still, the Blackhawks have not been competitive for four years now and jettisoning a big salary for a declining veteran would simply be the next step in their rebuild. Maybe even a necessary step.

He is 38 years old, has started to slow down, and carries a $5.5 million salary cap hit per season over the next two years.

That is a lot for another team to take on, but there are also only a small handful of teams in that geographic region. So let us stick with them and analyze the options for the best potential fit.

1. Winnipeg Jets

Keith grew up in Winnipeg and if the Jets roster has an Achilles heel, it is definitely on the blue line. The Jets have a lot of salary coming off the books this offseason and enter the offseason with over $20 million in salary cap space with 13 players under contract.

Even though Keith is not the player he once was, he could still potentially show up in Winnipeg and immediately be one of their best defenders.

The question the Jets have to ask is can they find a better (and younger) defender for a similar price? The potential options are slim. Dougie Hamilton is the top free agent but everybody is going to want him and his price tag will probably be significant. Seth Jones and Matt Dumba are also potentially available via trade, but will almost certainly cost more in terms of assets.

The bottom line for the Jets is they have the forwards and they have the goalie to seriously compete. They just now need some help on defense. Whether it is Keith or somebody else they have to do something here.

2. Seattle Kraken

The Kraken are an interesting possibility because they are starting from scratch and could take on Keith’s contract, and maybe even another contract, and use that to leverage draft picks or a young player as payment for the trouble.

Plus, they would get a player that would probably step right into their initial lineup and probably be a captain.

If Chicago went this route that would make it almost purely a salary dump move, but let’s be honest, that’s probably what it is going to be anyway.

Even though the Vegas Golden Knights arrived and became an immediate Stanley Cup contender expectations for Seattle should probably be kept more reasonable. Would it like to win right away? Sure. But the initial objective is still probably going to be accumulating as many assets as it can. Utilizing its full allotment of salary cap space to take on a contract to get some high picks or good prospects is a good way to do that.

Of course, the last time Chicago tried to make a trade like this it ended up costing them Teuvo Teravainen. That is a mistake you do not want to make again.

3. Edmonton Oilers

After another postseason disappointment and another wasted prime year of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, you can be sure the Oilers are going to want to do something. This is also the type of front office that would probably see a lot of value in adding a veteran like Keith with championship experience, whether it improves the team dramatically on the ice or not.

They also have a need for added depth on defense, especially with Tyson Barrie‘s pending free agency and the continued uncertainty surrounding Oscar Klefbom and his career.

4. Calgary Flames

The Flames are in this weird middle ground where they are not really a contender, they are not really rebuilding, they are just kind of average. Does a 38-year-old Duncan Keith do anything to change that in either direction? Not even a little bit. They do only have four NHL defenders under contract at the moment, but it is hard to see why either side would have a reason to want this to happen.

5. Vancouver Canucks

There is simply no good reason for the Canucks to get involved with this. The Canucks need to shed big contracts for veterans, not add another. Salary cap space is limited and they still have to re-sign Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes this offseason, while also finding a way to make significant improvements to their depth at both forward and defense. This seems like the type of move the Canucks could make, or want to make, or even try to make. Heck, maybe they DO make it. But we are not looking at that here.

We are looking at the teams and situations that make sense.

The Canucks do not make sense. Not a contender. No salary cap room. Way too many other issues to worry about before something like this. Just not really something that should be considered.

 

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    LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

    Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers, a surprising move for a player once considered the successor in net to two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick.

    Petersen, 28, went on waivers the day after allowing four goals on 16 shots in relief of Quick during a 9-8 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken. Quick was pulled after giving up five goals on 14 shots.

    Only one NHL goalie has a save percentage lower than Petersen’s .868 this season, Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets with .864. Petersen is 5-3-2 in 10 games with a 3.75 goals-against average in his third full season with the Kings and fifth overall.

    L.A. signed Petersen to a three-year, $15 million contract in September 2021, and he figured to take the starting job from Quick, who turns 37 in January and is set to be a free agent after the season. Petersen has two years left on that deal after this one at an annual salary cap hit of $5 million.

    Penguins’ Kris Letang out indefinitely after 2nd stroke

    Kris Letang Penguins
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    PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang plays hockey with a grace and inexhaustible fluidity seemingly impervious to the rigors of spending nearly half his life in the NHL.

    For the second time in less than a decade, however, a major health scare has brought Letang’s career to a halt.

    The 35-year-old Letang is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke for a second time. Letang reported feeling ill and was taken to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    While general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday this stroke doesn’t appear to be as serious as the one Letang sustained in 2014, the Penguins will have to find a way forward at least in the short term without one of their franchise pillars.

    “I am fortunate to know my body well enough to recognize when something isn’t right,” Letang said in a release. “While it is difficult to navigate this issue publicly, I am hopeful it can raise awareness. … I am optimistic that I will be back on the ice soon.”

    The three-time Stanley Cup champion missed more than two months in 2014 after a stroke, which doctors determined was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. He spent Monday feeling off and told team trainers he was dealing with what Hextall described as a migraine headache.

    Penguins team physician Dr. Dhamesh Vyas recommended Letang go to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    “He didn’t know (he had a stroke),” Hextall said. “He just knew something wasn’t right.”

    Letang is continuing to undergo tests but felt well enough on Tuesday to be at the arena for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina. He spent the second period chatting with Hextall then addressed his teammates in the locker room afterward in an effort to help allay their concerns.

    “I think it was important for Kris to be there because his teammates got to see him in good spirits and that he’s doing well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

    Sullivan added initial test results on Letang have been “very encouraging.” Letang will continue to undergo testing throughout the week, though he felt good enough in the aftermath to ask Sullivan and Hextall if he could skate, an activity that is off the table for now.

    Hextall said he “couldn’t even guess” how long the Penguins may be without the married father of two, adding hockey is low on the team’s list of concerns about a player who, along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has helped the franchise to three Stanley Cups during his 17-year career.

    “First and foremost this is about the person and I told Tanger about that last night,” Hextall said. “This is Kris Letang, the father and family guy, the Pittsburgh Penguins, that’s second.”

    Letang, a six-time All-Star, has been one of the most durable players in the NHL. His 662 career points (145 goals, 517 assists) are a franchise record for a defenseman. He’s averaged well over 24 minutes of playing time over the course of his career, a number that’s ticked above 25 minutes per game seven times in eight-plus seasons since he returned from the initial stroke.

    The Penguins felt so confident in Letang’s durability that they signed him to a six-year contract over the summer rather than let him test free agency for the first time.

    “The level of hockey he’s played for as long as he’s played is absolutely incredible,” Hextall said. “The level he’s continued to play at at his age, the type of shape he’s in … he’s a warrior.”

    Letang has one goal and 11 assists in 21 games so far this season for Pittsburgh, which hosts Vegas on Thursday night. The Penguins are pretty deep along the blue line, but Sullivan knows he can’t try to replace Letang with any one player.

    “It’s not anything we haven’t been faced with in the past and the reality is we have what we have, and we’ll figure it out,” Sullivan said, adding “it’ll be by committee, as it usually is when you replace a player of that stature.”

    Ovechkin tops Gretzky for most road goals, Capitals beat Canucks

    Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Alex Ovechkin scored twice, passing Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Tuesday night.

    Ovechkin has scored 403 of his 793 career goals away from home. Gretzky holds the overall record with 894.

    “It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.”

    Anthony Mantha added a goal and an assist for the Capitals (10-11-3). John Carlson and Martin Fehervary also scored, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots.

    Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had won three in a row. Spencer Martin made 23 saves.

    “Spencer’s been great for us. He’s probably a bit like the other players tonight. They weren’t ready to play and it showed on the scoreboard,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    The 37-year-old Ovechkin nearly netted a hat trick when Vancouver pulled Martin for an extra skater with just over six minutes left, but his rocket of a shot skimmed the outside of the post.

    “I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been like a new record. So it’s been cool,” Washington center Dylan Strome said. “Any time you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”

    Fehervary was the one who sealed it, flipping the puck high into the Canucks zone and into the empty net at 15:57 of the third period.

    Ovechkin topped Gretzky 11:52 into the first, firing a one-timer from the left circle past Martin to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season.

    “On his second goal, it looks like, `Oh, maybe (Martin) should have had it.’ But I’ve seen (Ovechkin) score 100 goals like that,” said Boudreau, who coached the Capitals from 2007-11. “He’s got a shot that finds its way in.”

    The star forward from Russia got his first of the night 5:35 in, taking the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes near the net and batting in a quick shot.

    “It could have been 6-1 after the first period, quite frankly, with the amount of chances (Washington) had,” Boudreau said.

    It was Ovechkin’s 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history.

    “(Ovechkin) was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game, and you need your best players to do that.”

    Carlson scored the lone goal of the second, chipping in a loose puck from the low hash marks at 18:47 to give Washington a 4-1 cushion.

    “It’s frustrating. Because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level,” Canucks center J.T. Miller said. “It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just outbattled us and created their own chances.”

    NOTES: Washington’s Lars Eller got his 200th career assist. … Miller had an assist, extending his point streak to nine games (four goals, seven assists). … The Capitals swept the two-game season series. … Vancouver assigned winger Vasily Podkolzin and defenseman Jack Rathbone to the Abbotsford Canucks on Monday, then recalled forward Phillip Di Giuseppe from the American Hockey League club on Tuesday.

    UP NEXT

    Washington: At Seattle on Thursday in the second of a five-game trip.

    Vancouver: Host Florida on Thursday in the second of a four-game homestand.

    Deal for Coyotes’ proposed arena approved by Tempe council

    David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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    TEMPE, Ariz. — The Tempe City Council has unanimously approved a proposal for a new Arizona Coyotes arena and entertainment district, clearing the way for a public vote on the project next year.

    The City Council approved the proposal 7-0 after a lengthy meeting that included NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

    The $2.1 billion project would include a 16,000-seat arena, practice rink, 1,600 apartments, two hotels and a theater. Approval of the project was the final step before it goes to referendum on May 16.

    The team is currently playing at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the NHL’s smallest arena.

    The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since the city of Glendale pulled out of a multimillion-dollar lease at Gila River Arena. Arizona had been playing on an annual lease until Glendale said it would not be renewed for the 2022-23 season.