Is Duncan Keith to the Oilers a Good Fit?
Hockey Night in Canada reporter Elliotte Friedman set the hockey world ablaze last week when he indicated that the Chicago Blackhawks were working on a potential trade for defenseman Duncan Keith. Since then, Friedman indicated that the Oilers appear to be in the running for the veteran defender.
For a franchise that has nothing to show for their first five years of the Connor McDavid era, is trading for a veteran defenseman the right move to make?
Without a doubt, Keith is in the autumn of his career. The Stanley Cup and Gold Medal-winning defenseman has had declining metrics over his last seven seasons. In that time, he’s seen his Corsi rating at five-on-five decline from 56.6% to 44.8%, his expected goals-for percentage decrease from 56.4% to 41.9%, and his points per game total drop from 0.77 to 0.28.
There is speculation that the ask is for two Oilers prospects, with rumblings that Caleb Jones and Dmitri Samorukov could be going to the Blackhawks. Edmonton has gone through some lean years without prospects to call upon when needed. Trading away two highly-touted youngsters for two seasons of a defenseman whose best years are behind him is counterintuitive for a franchise that has struggled over the last 15 seasons.
In a flat salary cap era, we also have to consider the cap hit that could handcuff the Oilers’ ability to sign complementary pieces, particularly the top-six talent they desperately require. Keith would bring a cap hit slightly above $5.5 million, bringing the Oilers closer to the cap and tying up valuable space for a winger talented enough to skate with McDavid. When the Carolina Hurricanes traded for Patrick Marleau’s contract last season, they were rewarded with a first-round pick. It seems even more unwise then to trade away top prospects for an aging defenseman’s prohibitive contract.
Keith’s presence would benefit a young group of Oilers defensemen, but the deal, as speculated, makes little sense from the Oilers’ perspective. Let’s hope the hard lessons of previous deals have already been learned, and the Oilers don’t back themselves into a cap crunch with two fewer prospects to work through their system.
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