It is expected that the 2021 offseason will be the expansion of the Kraken draft and the unforeseen flat top cap of the upcoming 2021-22 season.
Now that the first domino has fallen, the Black Hawks parted ways with three-time Stanley Cup champion Dunken Keith and sent him to the Oilers on Monday. The winner of Conn Smythe in 2015 asked to move to Western Canada to get closer to his son Colton, who lives in Penticton, British Columbia.
“Last year was very difficult to see him,” Keith said in a Zoom conference call with reporters after the deal was announced. “I haven’t seen him for almost three months, then visited him briefly, and haven’t seen him for nearly two months…I know I don’t want to spend so long without seeing him .
“So I am very happy to be closer to him, to see him more frequently, to get him involved more, and to be able to come to Edmonton.”
This is hockey, but this deal is not just an ice product. Its meaning is more meaningful than any other transaction. Under ice, this is an A+ for all participating teams, but of course, fans will pay attention to the ice aspect. So, having said that, let’s take a look at the performance of each team:
- Dustin Keith (D)
- Tim Soderlund (F)
The Blackhawks get:
- Caleb Jones
- Conditional Draft of 2022
Jones undoubtedly added a lot to the Blackhawks. You might ask what pot? The one who made them his brother Seth Jones. The latter Jones brothers will become a free agent next summer, and he reportedly expressed his desire to leave Columbus.
Will Seth abandon his no-trade clause and exclude Chicago from the no-trade list? Possibly, so that siblings can play with Niedermayers or (some) Sutters. This move makes this acquisition a bit inferior to a pipe dream, because it also opens up some cap space for the Blackhawks. Keith’s upper limit is US$5,538,462, and Jones’ upper limit is US$5.4 million.
Regardless of the likelihood of Seth, Chicago will get a young defensive player in Caleb with 93 game experience (33 in 2021). He did not release big numbers in the NHL, but Caleb has shown that he can score 29 points in 50 games in Bakersfield in 2018-19 and 11 points in 14 games in 2019-20.
This move may be beneficial to Caleb because he does not have much room for growth and development at the NHL level. There is a group of people who stop him and enter the lineup every night, such as Chris Russell, William Ragson and Dmitry Kulikov (if he re-signs).
It should be pointed out that if the Blackhawks reach a deal with Seth in some way, then the final results here will be greatly improved.
Intangible assets. This is what led the oilman general manager Ken Holland to join Keith. Holland saw the analysis. He saw a drop in numbers, including an over-average negative 8 goals, which was the third worst of any NHL player in the past two seasons (at least 100 games). According to ESPN’s Greg Wysynski.
But from the perspective of the Oilers, this deal has nothing to do with it. This is about intangible assets.
“I can’t tell you about three Stanley Cups, two Norris trophies, one Consmeys trophy, two gold medals and his leadership, what he means to the Chicago Blackhawks, how he won, and won in 2015. The price of the Consmeys trophy. Is he the same player today? No. He won’t play,” Holland said. “Do I know data analysis? Yes. His data analysis is not as good as they were at their peak, but I am not asking him to be our first guard and play 25 minutes with the best player of another team. Nurse Nell will do this.”
Keith is expected to be placed in the second defensive combination, which will allow him to confront his opponent’s weaker line of defense. Last season, he led the Blackhawks in ice rink time (23 minutes and 25 seconds), but as the Netherlands pointed out, now with nurses on the blue line, he doesn’t have to do that. Not becoming a top D pair will also limit his contact with league superstars, which may help support Keith’s game and improve his skill level.
Although Keith turned 38 in four days, he was still eager to show that he was not done yet.
“I think I have a lot,” Keith said when asked how much he has left in the game. “Once we are on the ice, we will see who is one step behind there. I don’t want to say more. That’s how it is, we will see what happens after the ice.
Does Keith have to piece together an All-Star season? No, because as mentioned earlier, this has nothing to do with ice games, but with intangible assets.
Last year’s Oilers roster won the Stanley Cup: Alex Kierson, who won with the Capitals in 2018. Keith has three trophies and one Conn Smythe trophy. Add someone who can bring leadership to the locker room. He has been in the trenches and knows that winning the Stanley Cup-multiple Stanley Cups-is priceless for the locker room.
“I had to try to do something to make our team better, and I believe I made our team better today. We added a legal top four defenders,” Holland said. He is accepting criticism because he did not allow the Blackhawks to retain up to 50% of Keith’s salary. “I know he is 37 years old, but he is very motivated, he is excited, and he brings a lot of intangible assets that are invaluable. I don’t know how much they are worth, but I know those teams continue to playoffs This is good-we just watched the game last week and you will see the veteran players and their influence on these teams. I think it is because of their experience, of course, this is hope.”
Time will tell whether Keith will rejuvenate in the new team, but he does supplement the missing elements of the Oilers. They already have players who can bury the ball in Connor McDavid and Leon Dresettel. They already have top defensive talents like nurses. Now they have someone who knows how to win.