a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman indicated that the Blackhawks are working with defenseman Duncan Keith on a trade that would send him to either the Pacific Northwest or Western Canada. The move is speculated to be for family reasons which would explain the specific geographical region where he’d waive his no-move clause to go to.
With that in mind, let’s look at the potential fit for each of those teams to take on the final two years of his deal ($5.538MM both years but just $3.6MM in total salary combined).
Vancouver – With Alex Edler set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the month, there is a potential spot for Keith to step into if Edler doesn’t re-sign while it would shift Nate Schmidt back to his off-side. Although the Canucks don’t have the cap space to absorb Keith’s contract outright, they have some expiring contracts (Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle, and Antoine Roussel) that could be used as offsets to make the money work this year. He’d also be a mentor for top youngster Quinn Hughes.
However, bringing in Keith would also put another roadblock in place for two of their young left-shot blueliners in Olli Juolevi and Jack Rathbone. Juolevi was able to carve out a limited role last season but more is expected from the fifth overall pick in 2016. As for Rathbone, he didn’t look out of place in a late-season stint and could be in the mix for a full-time spot in training camp. Developing some cost-controlled assets will help offset the big money owed to Hughes and Elias Pettersson this summer and Brock Boeser next summer.
It’s potentially for those reasons that they don’t appear to be interested in acquiring Keith at the moment. There are ways to make the money work for 2021-22 but 2022-23 could be a lot trickier and if they want to let Juolevi and Rathbone see some more NHL action, adding Keith would make that more difficult.