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.
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.