The rumors have been swirling around Duncan Keith and the Chicago Blackhawks for the past couple of weeks. On June 30, Elliotte Freidman of Sportsnet first reported that the Blackhawks were serious about trading the veteran defenseman. Within the next couple of days, Scott Powers of The Athletic revealed that Keith got the ball rolling, citing a desire to play closer to home in the Pacific Northwest or Western Canada.
Related – Blackhawks 2020-21 Player Grades: Duncan Keith
For the past few days, the Edmonton Oilers emerged as the leading landing spot for Keith. There have been numerous names put out there like Ethan Bear and Ryan McLeod as coming back to Chicago. Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff was the first report that Keith is heading to Edmonton for defenseman Caleb Jones and a mid-round draft pick.
As reported by TSN, the Blackhawks are getting Jones and a 2021 third-round draft pick in exchange for Keith. The huge factor of this deal is that Chicago is not retaining any salary, so the Oilers will take on a $5.38 million salary-cap hit for each of the next two seasons.
The Blackhawks have made the trade official. They are sending Keith and AHLer Tim Soderlund to the Oilers for Jones and a conditional third-round pick at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft. The pick will become a second-round pick if Edmonton wins three rounds in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs and Keith is amongst the top four defensemen in total time on ice during the first three rounds of the postseason.
Blackhawks Get More Than a Fair Return
The fact that Stan Bowman could make a deal for Keith in which the Blackhawks don’t have to retain any salary is a huge win. In fact, it is rather shocking that Oilers’ general manager Ken Holland agreed to take on the full contract.
Jones is a 24-year-old left-handed defenseman. He is the younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets’ blueliner Seth Jones, who has been the subject of a ton of trade rumors the past few weeks. Caleb was a fourth-round pick by the Oilers (117th overall) back in 2015. He comes with an $850,000 salary cap hit and will be a restricted free agent following the 2021-22 season.
He had two successful seasons with the Portland Winter Hawks in the Western Hockey League (WHL). He had 19 goals and 117 points in his 135 career WHL games. He has spent much of the past three seasons with the Bakersfield Condors in the American Hockey League (AHL). He has 10 goals and 51 points in 113 career AHL games.
Jones has played a total of 93 NHL games with the Oilers, including 33 this past season. His offensive game from juniors has yet to translate to this level as he has five goals and 19 points during his young NHL career. He has a career minus-17 rating and 48.5 Corsi for percentage (CF%). He will join a young and rather inexperienced defensive corps with Adam Boqvist, Nicolaus Beaudin, and Ian Mitchell.
Oilers Acquire a Chicago Legend
Saying goodbye to Keith will be hard for Chicago fans. He won’t look right playing in a blue and orange sweater. He will go down as one of the greatest players in the Blackhawks’ storied history, and his No. 2 will be hanging from the United Center rafters one day.
He is second all-time in franchise history for games played. He was a leader on and off the ice for three Stanley Championships and won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2015. He won the Norris Trophy in 2010 and 2014 to add to his Hall of Fame resume.
While Keith is not the player he was during the Blackhawks dynastic run last decade, he is still a good defenseman when used correctly. As long as head coach Dave Tippett doesn’t use him as an elite No. 1 defender, something Jeremey Colliton has been guilty of, he will be a nice addition to Edmonton’s blue line.
This is a bittersweet day for Blackhawks fans. While it is exciting to think about the future, it is still very hard to say goodbye to a legend and move even further away from the glory days. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are the only players left on the roster to win a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks.