Duncan Keith Traded to Oilers from Blackhawks for Caleb Jones, Draft Pick

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJuly 12, 2021

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 27: Duncan Keith #2 of the Chicago Blackhawks passes against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on April 27, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Lightning defeated the Blackhawks 7-4. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks have traded veteran defenseman Duncan Keith and forward Tim Soderlund to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for defenseman Caleb Jones and a conditional 2022 third-round pick.

Pierre LeBrun of TSN tweeted details on the conditional pick:

Pierre LeBrun @PierreVLeBrun

Full Oilers-Hawks deal: <br>Duncan Keith and Tim Soderlund for Caleb Jones And 2022 3rd RD pick <br>The 2022 pick will become a 2nd RD pick if Edm wins 3 rounds in 2022 playoffs AND Keith is amongst the top 4 in Oilers D time on ice during the first three rounds of the 2022 Playoffs.

Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet first reported the trade. 

Keith, 37, has spent his entire 16-year career in Chicago. 

Keith is a three-time champion, three-time All-Star, a two-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner as the top defensive player and the 2014-15 Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup playoffs MVP. He's a safe bet to be a Hall of Famer once he retires. 

Mark Lazerus @MarkLazerus

Mildly hot take: Duncan Keith was the best player of the Blackhawks' core. Maybe in the discussion with Stan Mikita for best player in team history. Hard to describe how good Keith was in his prime. He made the whole thing go.

The question is just how much he'll upgrade Edmonton's blue line at this point in his career:

dom at the athletic @domluszczyszyn

I am not high on Caleb Jones, but Chicago getting *anything* back for the ghost of Duncan Keith is truly incredible.<br>He may have something left in the tank that public models don't account for, but he's already not playing tough minutes and still struggling. <a href="https://t.co/rXBM7P9cHj">pic.twitter.com/rXBM7P9cHj</a>

JFresh @JFreshHockey

Duncan Keith, traded to EDM, has put up hideous results for the past several seasons in a steady decline consistent with a player in his late thirties. The Oil are praying that a smaller role will spark a huge improvement - it's a major gamble. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LetsGoOilers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LetsGoOilers</a> <a href="https://t.co/28bksotACz">pic.twitter.com/28bksotACz</a>

Everything in Edmonton should be viewed through the lens of maximizing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl's prime years. The 24-year-old McDavid is the league's best player; the 25-year-old Draisaitl isn't far behind. The pair have won three of the past five Hart Trophies. 

And yet, in their time together the Oilers have won just one playoff series. That is an indictment on the talent the organization has surrounded them with, more than anything else. 

McDavid is under contract through the 2025-26 season, while Draisaitl's deal takes him through the 2024-25 campaign, so the Oilers have some time to build a true championship contender around them. Perhaps the Oilers see Keith's championship experience and his locker room presence as particularly valuable as McDavid, Draisaitl and the Oilers try to take the next step. 

Whether he's able to be a net positive on the ice at this stage in his career remains to be seen. 

As for Jones, his acquisition may be part of a larger plan for the rebuilding Blackhawks:

David Pagnotta @TheFourthPeriod

Told the pending acquisition of Caleb Jones has "nothing to do" with Chicago's pursuit of his brother Seth. Convenient, but Hawks had Caleb on their radar well before Seth informed CBJ he wasn't signing an extension. Landing him, too, is still something Chicago is trying to do.

Regardless, the 24-year-old has appeared in 93 games over the past three years, posting a minus-17 plus-minus.