Duncan Keith ending up in Edmonton was a trade that many in the hockey world expected to happen one way or another over the past few weeks.
The word came out that Keith wanted a trade out of Chicago and to a Western Canadian team with the Seattle Kraken had also been discussed. This soon morphed into Keith and the Oilers being the front runner for his services.
On July 12th, it all became a reality. The Hawks moved Keith and minor leaguer Tim Söderlund in exchange for Caleb Jones, a conditional third-round pick in the 2022 Entry Draft (that could morph into a second). The biggest thing most noticed was the Blackhawks not retaining any remaining salary on his remaining deal that has two years left and an AAV of just over $5.5 million.
The problems with the trade were not solely with the idea of trading for Keith – someone whose game has dropped significantly over time, but still holds value as a second or third-pairing option. With manageable minutes and his innate ability to be a mentor to some of the younger players, that’s where he’ll be most effective.
The problems come when we talk about the fact that the Oilers had all the power in this deal. Keith wanted to be closer to his family in Western Canada, which is why Calgary, Vancouver, and Seattle were seemingly in the conversation. But all eyes shifted to Edmonton quite quickly, and that’s who won the sweepstakes, for better or for worse.
If Keith turns back the clock a bit on the blueline for Edmonton, then that’ll be excellent for a team that could use a bit more help on the blueline. But Keith’s production isn’t what it used to be, highlighted by his 15 points in 54 games this past season. The Hawks weren’t a good team, mind you, but he didn’t change the course in a drastic way.
The Oilers were also in a place where they didn’t have to help Chicago out when it came to their cap situation yet. But they did exactly that by not getting any salary retention out of Chicago. Stan Bowman shouldn’t have been walking away from this deal as the presumed winner. It was a salary dump for Chicago. If the Oilers couldn’t get Keith on terms that were favorable to them, it was one that the Oilers should have walked away from.
This deal also ideally should have been one that saw Edmonton getting help in moving on from either Mikko Koskinen or James Neal but that didn’t happen.
With the news of the New York Islanders shopping Nick Leddy and word of Nate Schmidt wanting out of Vancouver emerging, a deal like this has many wondering why they couldn’t be more patient.
We’ll see if this works out for Ken Holland in an important off-season for the Oilers’ GM. But if they stay quiet, more questions will certainly be asked about how serious the team is when it comes to building a winning unit.