The 2021 offseason is set to be a doozy with the Kraken expansion plan and the unforeseen flat cap looming for the upcoming 2021-22 season.
Now the first domino has fallen, as the Blackhawks parted ways with three-time Stanley Cup champion Duncan Keith, sending him to the Oilers on Monday. The 2015 Conn Smythe winner has requested a move to Western Canada to be closer to his son, Colton, who lives in Penticton, British Columbia.
“Last year has been pretty tough, not being able to see it,” Keith said on a Zoom call with reporters after the exchange was announced. “I went almost three months without seeing him, then I had a quick little visit and another almost two months without seeing him… I knew I didn’t want to go those long stretches without seeing him.
“So I’m delighted to be closer to him and to be able to see him more frequently and to have involved him more and to be able to come to Edmonton. “
It’s hockey, but there is more to this profession than just the product on the ice. It makes more sense than, really, any other profession can. Outside of the ice, it’s an A + for all the teams involved, but there is, of course, the on-ice aspect that fans will be focusing on. So, that said, here’s a look at how each team did:
Oil tankers receive:
- Dustin Keith (D)
- Tim Soderlund (F)
The Blackhawks Receive:
- Caleb jones
- 2022 Conditional Draft Pick
Jones surely sweetens the pot for the Blackhawks. What pot will you ask me for? The one who got them his brother, Seth Jones. The latter brother Jones will be a free agent next summer and has reportedly expressed a desire to leave Columbus.
Would Seth give up his no-trade clause and keep Chicago off his no-trade list? Maybe, so that the siblings can play Niedermayer or (some) Sutter together. The move made this acquisition a little less than a pipe dream, as it also opened up some space for the Blackhawks. Keith’s cap was $ 5,538,462 and Jones’s cap would be $ 5,400,000.
Regardless of Seth’s possibilities, Chicago gets a young defenseman in Caleb with 93 games of experience under his belt (33 in 2021). He hasn’t posted big numbers in the NHL, but Caleb has shown he can bring an offensive game with 29 points in 50 games with the Oilers AHL affiliate at Bakersfield in 2018-19 and 11 points in 14 games in 2019-2020.
The move could be good for Caleb as he didn’t have much room to grow and develop at the NHL level. There were a bunch of guys blocking him and getting into the lineup every night like Kris Russell, William Lagesson and Dmitri Kulikov (if he’s re-signed).
It’s worth noting that, if the Blackhawks were to make a deal for Seth, this would need a big boost for the final note here.
Intangible. That’s what prompted Oilers general manager Ken Holland to add Keith. Holland saw the scans. He has seen the numbers drop, including an above-average under-8 goals scored which was the third-worst mark for an NHL player in the past two seasons (minimum 100 games), by Greg Wyshynski of ESPN.
But this deal wasn’t about any of that from an Oilers point of view. They were intangible.
“I can’t put a price tag on three Stanley Cups, two Norris Trophies, one Conn Smythe Trophy, two gold medals and his leadership, what he means to the Chicago Blackhawks franchise, how he won, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2015. Is that the same player today? No. He wouldn’t be available, ”said Holland. “Am I aware of the analyzes?” Yeah. His analyzes aren’t as good as they were at his peak, but I’m not asking him to be our # 1 defender, to play 25 minutes against the other team’s best players. Darnell Nurse will do it. “
Keith is expected to be part of the second defensive group, which will put him in the grip of the weaker lines of the opposition. Last season he led the Blackhawks in ice time (23:25), but as Holland noted, he won’t have to do it now with Nurse on the blue line. Not being on a top D-pair will also limit his exposure to league superstars, which could help strengthen Keith’s game and elevate his skill level.
And Keith is hungry to show that he hasn’t finished yet despite turning 38 in four days.
“I feel like I have a lot of it,” Keith said when asked how much was left in his game. “Once we hit the ice we’ll see who’s one step behind there. . I don’t really like to talk. That’s what it is, and we’ll see what happens when we’re on the ice.
Does Keith have to host an All-Star season? No, because, as mentioned, it’s not so much about ice play as it is about intangibles.
Last year’s Oilers roster featured a Stanley Cup-winning guy: Alex Chiasson, who won with the Capitals in 2018. Keith has three and a Conn Smythe Trophy. Adding a guy who can provide leadership in the locker room, who’s been in the trenches and who knows what it takes to win a Stanley Cup – multiple Stanley Cups – is invaluable to a locker room.
“I had to try to do something to improve our team, and I think I improved our team today. We’ve added a legitimate top-four defenseman, ”said Holland, who accepts criticism for the hit and doesn’t do the Blackhawks. keep up to 50 percent of Keith’s salary. “I know he’s 37, but he’s motivated, he’s excited and he brings a lot of intangibles that are hard to put a price on. I don’t know what they’re worth, but I know the teams. who go to the playoffs and that’s good – and we just looked at last week recently and you look at the veteran players and the impact they have on these teams. I think it’s because of their experience, and certainly, it is hope. “
Time will tell if Keith feels rejuvenated on a new team, but he adds that element the Oilers lacked. They already have guys who can bury the puck in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. They already have the best defensive talents like Nurse. Now they have the guy who knows how to win.