Duncan Keith trade rumors have been swirling ever since Wednesday. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet’s original report stated that Keith, who has a full no-movement clause in his contract, preferred to be dealt to either Western Canada or the Pacific Northwest. The story has only gained more specific details since then. It’s since been reported that the Edmonton Oilers and Seattle Kraken were Keith’s preferred destinations, but today, there’s been a lot of discussion on the Oilers’ side of the coin.
Now, a report by The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman is suggesting that Edmonton may only pull the trigger on a potential deal if certain conditions are met. Considering the Oilers and general manager Ken Holland’s goal of being in ’win-now’ mode, Keith’s steep $5.5MM cap hit is a complicating factor in any potential deal. So while Chicago won’t be giving him away for peanuts, for Edmonton to swing a deal, the cap differential needs to be close to even when all is said and done.
How that happens isn’t entirely clear. There’s a nearly endless combination of assets in play that could make a deal work here. James Neal’s contract is similarly an albatross, and could get moved the other way with a couple of other pieces packaged in. Earlier reports today suggested that Caleb Jones could be part of a package to Chicago for Keith. Regardless, and especially if Jones is the centerpiece of a deal, Chicago will likely have to retain some amount of salary in a Keith trade. While Chicago is looking to contend sooner rather than later as well, one or even two million dollars against the cap in a retained salary transaction likely won’t be the end of the world.
It’s obvious the Blackhawks want to do right by Keith, who’s given more than anyone could’ve asked for to the franchise. But considering the 37-year-old’s restrictive demands, Chicago’s hands may end up being tied if they can’t get the return they desire — which is to say, a trade, while likely, is never a guarantee.
All contract information is provided by CapFriendly.