Blackhawks News & Rumors: Keith, Jones & Fleury

It has been a hectic 24-hour period for the Chicago Blackhawks. The aftershocks from Monday’s trade of Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers are still rippling through the fandom. Keith and Oilers’ general manager Ken Holland met with the media after the deal, and both had some interesting things to say.

The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Caleb Jones in the Keith trade, and it just might be used as leverage to land his older brother Seth from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Plus, an unexpected name came up in a rumor during all the post-trade excitement, but does it make sense for the Blackhawks?

Keith & Holland React to Huge Move

It is not a matter of if Keith’s No. 2 will be retired by the Blackhawks, but when. Only fellow Chicago hockey legend Stan Mikita played more games for the team than Keith. He was a two-time Norris Trophy winner, and it can be argued that he was the most important player of the Blackhawks’ three Stanley Cup wins in 2010, 2013, and 2015.

He brings a wealth of experience and leadership to an Edmonton locker room looking to get over the proverbial hump. He also possesses a passion and work ethic that will rub off on the younger players as the Oilers brass hope they can finally take the next step in becoming legitimate Cup contenders.

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“For me, my mindset going to Edmonton is to be the best player I can be because that’s what’s going to help the team the most; what I do on the ice,” Keith said in a video conference call. “I’m excited for the opportunity and challenge that is ahead of me here. I want to bring a strong work ethic, and everything starts from that.”

The biggest reason Keith asked for the trade was that he wanted to be closer to his son and revealed just how hard the past few months have been.

“Last year was pretty difficult not being able to see him,” he said. “I went almost three months without seeing him, had a quick little visit, and then another two months without seeing him. As time went on in the off-season, I knew I didn’t want to go those long periods of time without seeing him. I’m excited to be closer to him and be able to see him more frequently and have him more involved.”

Holland had a rough day after acquiring Keith as he took a beating on social media and had a bit of testy media call. The criticism wasn’t for bringing in the veteran defender but for not getting the Blackhawks to retain any salary.

Ken Holland Edmonton Oilers
Holland had a lot of explaining to do Monday. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“Did you want me to get him for free?” he said. “It’s hard to squeeze people in this league. The deal has to work for both teams. You can sit on the sidelines and analyze the deal. I’ve got to make a deal. I got to try to do something to make our team better. I believe I made our team better today because we’ve got a legitimate, top-four defenseman.”

Related: Oilers Inexplicably Accept Duncan Keith’s Full Salary in Puzzling Trade

The biggest issue is that the Oilers are already strapped for cap space and still want to re-sign pending unrestricted free agent Adam Larsson, Keith’s potential partner. Plus, they are now forced to protect him for the upcoming Expansion Draft, which might cause Edmonton to lose another young defender like Ethan Bear.

Only time will tell if this deal will be worth it for Edmonton, and we have to wait and see what the Blackhawks do with this newfound cap space before declaring it a slam dunk win.

A Jones Family Reunion in Chicago?

The minute Caleb Jones was reported as the player leaving Edmonton on Monday, the wheels of speculation started to turn rapidly. The Blackhawks have already been connected to trade rumors involving his older brother Seth, so this move only added fuel to those fires.

Seth has already made it clear that he wants to explore free agency next summer, which has the Blue Jackets looking to move the 27-year-old blueliner. Our own credentialed Blue Jackets reporter Mark Scheig weighed on the Chicago-Columbus rumors.

Seth Jones Columbus Blue Jackets
Will Seth join Caleb in Chicago? (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Scheig feels that adding Caleb certainly sweetens the pot when it comes to Seth wanting to play in Chicago. Any trade for the elder Jones will have to come with an agreement on a contract extension because it makes no sense to give up assets for one year.

Here is the possible package that it might take to get a deal done, according to Scheig:

The Blue Jackets would ask for Kirby Dach but I don’t see the Blackhawks doing that. Therefore the start of a package should center around both a first-round pick and prospect Lukas Reichel. Reichel was the 17th-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft.

Then to finish it off, I’d see if the Blue Jackets could get Connor Murphy. Murphy went to Dublin Jerome High School and would be a homecoming to Columbus. With Jones going to the Blackhawks in that kind of deal, Murphy would be able to provide immediate blueline help. Perhaps the Blue Jackets could get a forward included such as Dylan Strome to help their center ice position or an Adam Boqvist to help their blue line.

Reichel’s name has popped up in a few trade scenarios. If he is to be included in any trade for Jones, there had better be a very team-friendly contract extension coming too. It seems like a hefty asking price, and with other teams knowing the Blue Jackets are in a tough spot, it remains to be seen if they get it.

Marc-Andre Fleury to the Blackhawks?

A very intriguing name came up when discussing what the Blackhawks might do with their salary cap space this summer. Per Scott Powers of The Athletic, they might be in play for a future Hall of Fame goaltender.

According to a source, the Blackhawks might still even address other areas of their team. The Blackhawks like how their forward group is shaping up and believe they have enough there to be competitive. They know there is a need for a quality defenseman or two. But they’re also open to addressing their goaltending depth. According to a league source, the Blackhawks could be in play for Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. With Fleury having just one year left on his contract, the Blackhawks could financially afford his $7 million cap hit if needed. Stay tuned.

From “Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith trade was best for him and the team” by Scott Powers – The Athletic, 7/12/21

That is a name that jumps off the page. There is no doubt the Blackhawks need a veteran goaltender on the roster to push the likes of Kevin Lankinen and Collin Delia. However, one with a $7 million cap hit doesn’t exactly fit the bill.

Vegas Golden Knights Marc-Andre Fleury
Fleury’s name is now connected to the Blackhawks. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Granted, Fleury’s contract lasts just one more season, and the Blackhawks could ask for a top-rated prospect or high draft pick to take on the entire deal. It is no secret that the Golden Knights want to be aggressive this summer and have been connected to Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres and Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues. In order to acquire any of those players, they would need to shed a significant amount of salary.

Who knows how these next few weeks will shake out or what the Blackhawks roster will look like when training camp opens in September? What we do know is that we will keep you updated on it all here at The Hockey Writers. Be sure to check out our latest episode of Blackhawks Banter, where we discussed the Keith trade and more.

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