The Blackhawks’ Defense No Longer Runs On Duncan

After 3 Stanley Cups, 2 Norris Trophies, a Conn Smyth, 105 goals and 520 assists in 1,192 games spanning 16 seasons, Duncan Keith’s time as a Chicago Blackhawk has come to an end. Back on July 12th, the Hawks traded Keith and Tim Soderlund to the Edmonton Oilers for Caleb Jones and a 2022 3rd-round pick.

A deal for Keith was bound to happen as the Blackhawks look toward the future with a much younger defense in Chicago. Keith is 38-years old and had two years left on his 13-year, $72 million contract he signed prior to the 2010-11 season. The Blackhawks did make out well on this trade as they not only were able to move the entire $3.6 million remaining on Keith’s contract to Edmonton, but they also received defenseman Caleb Jones and a 3rd-Round pick in 2022.

By getting Keith’s contract off the books, this opens up a lot of possibilities going forward. The Blackhawks have been tied to a few names including Caleb Jones’ brother Seth from the Blue Jackets and free agent Dougie Hamilton to help bolster the Chicago defense. Those are just two names in the rumors, I’m sure there’s plenty of other possibilities the Blackhawks are considering as well.

The table below shows the options at defense for the Blackhawks next season as of now. Both Calvin de Haan and Nikita Zadorov remain on the roster after the Seattle Kraken opted to take John Quenneville in the expansion draft. Even then, the Blackhawks only have Connor Murphy with more than a full-season of 82 games played in his career.

The Hawks are definitely going to miss Keith’s 23:25 average minutes of ice time per game. Connor Murphy is the clear top defenseman now. He averaged the second most average ice time of the defensemen last year behind Keith at 22:09 (third on team behind Kane). I thought Adam Boqvist was really impressive for just a 20-year old so far in his career. Nikita Zadorov was solid defensively, but really hurt the Blackhawks on the offensive side last year with 41 giveaways and one of the worst expected +/- on the Blackhawks at -1.7. Calvin De Haan had the second to worst +/- on the team last year at -16. To me, Murphy is the only one who’s showed he deserves to be on that top defensive line.

Ian Mitchell, Riley Stillman, Nicolas Beaudin, Wyatt Kalynuk, Alec Regula and the newly acquired Caleb Jones are all options as the Blackhawks move forward. This whole group will be interesting to watch and see who takes the next steps to get the minutes on the Hawks defense.

We’ll have to wait and see whether the Blackhawks make a deal for Seth Jones (right now the price seems too high), sign Dougie Hamilton or someone else to help provide some experience on the defensive end for next season.

Seeing Keith go is going to be tough for Blackhawks’ fans because he gave us so much over those 16 seasons and he was such a big part of those three Stanley Cups. It makes it easier that he leaves on a good note and in a trade that was really the right deal. I wish him the best of luck in Edmonton and he’ll forever be loved in Chicago.

Published by Will McClaughry

Sports fan, data enthusiast and former division 3 college basketball player

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