Blackhawks News & Rumors: Keith, Dickinson, Jones, More

Unsurprisingly, the 2022-23 Chicago Blackhawks have struggled out of the gate. They look as disjointed as was to be expected, given the changes up and down their lineup this offseason. Time will tell if this is a trend that fans will have to embrace, with the odds currently pointing in that direction. Nevertheless, despite limited on-ice activity for Chicago to celebrate at the moment, relevant storylines continue to centre around the franchise.

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This edition of Blackhawks News & Rumors includes a mix of new and old, with familiar faces reminding fans what the Blackhawks are missing as those who remain brace for the battle that awaits.

Oilers Hire Keith for Development Role

While it shouldn’t shock supporters to hear that Duncan Keith has found a way to remain in the game following his retirement, what may cause some confusion is where he chose to do so. After spending 16 years with the Blackhawks, Keith went on to play his final season with the Edmonton Oilers in 2021-22.

Duncan Keith, Edmonton Oilers
Duncan Keith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Even the most loyal athletes move from time to time. It happens. However, what tends to be a more common pattern is witnessing their return to the city they lived in the longest, given the history that ties all parties together. In this case, though, Keith will continue his tenure with the Oilers organization.

Hired in a player development role, Keith being tasked with motivating and mentoring Edmonton’s prospects offers a perfect fit for all. Known as a workhorse throughout his entire career, he’s a living example of what it takes to excel at this game.

The three Stanley Cups, three Norris Trophies, and Conn Smyth Trophy he won as a member of the Blackhawks offer more than enough evidence to support that fact.

Dickinson Ready to Go in Chicago

Jason Dickinson, acquired by the Blackhawks in the trade that sent Riley Stillman to the Vancouver Canucks, was forced to miss the start of the season due to visa issues related to his move. That said, despite the delay that lasted over a week, Dickinson is now finally able to acclimate in Chicago.

Jason Dickinson, former Vancouver Canuck
Jason Dickinson, former Vancouver Canuck (Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)

Dickinson being infused into the lineup forced the Blackhawks to revise their roster accordingly. As such, Buddy Robinson has been relegated to the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Rockford IceHogs.

While the Blackhawks have certainly left us scratching our heads about certain parts of their rebuild thus far, prioritizing a 27-year-old Dickinson over a 31-year-old Robinson does make sense for their NHL lineup. Besides, Robinson returning to the AHL may be what’s best for him at this point in his career anyway.

He’s found far more success at that level over the past decade, with a drastically increased game count as compared to his experience in the NHL. Some players are simply better suited for certain leagues and Robinson will now have a chance to enhance his resume by joining Rockford.

Jones Already Logging Massive Minutes

It’s no secret that Seth Jones was brought in with the expectation that he’d be able to manage a ton of ice time for the Blackhawks. Having averaged close to 25:00 per night throughout the six years he spent with the Columbus Blue Jackets just before joining Chicago, his new club was certainly anticipating the same type of workflow.

Seth Jones, Chicago Blackhawks
Seth Jones, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Through his first year in Chicago, Jones didn’t disappoint in that respect. His 26:13 per night led all non-goalie Blackhawks through 2021-22. And he’s already begun to set a similar trend early on in 2022-23.

Jones is already averaging over 26:00 per contest, with no signs of that load being lessened. The reality is, this Blackhawks team needs all the leadership it can get this season and Jones is right up there at the top with the veterans Chicago will look to in that respect.

Beyond being a steady presence on their blue line, Chicago has to also anticipate that Jones will also be able to improve upon some of his less-than-steller metrics through his debut campaign with the club. Specifically, his minus-37 rating.

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Progress of any sort will be a welcomed step in the right direction for Chicago. Especially given the challenges Jones and his counterparts will continue to face with the type of lineup that currently surrounds them. Now, we wait and see if the dynamic defenseman can achieve a minus-36 or better through 2022-23.

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