Elliotte Friedman lobbed a grenade into the hockey world on Wednesday afternoon with a report that defenceman Duncan Keith could potentially be on the move.
The surefire Hall-of-Famer, who won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, wants to go to a team in the Pacific Northwest or Western Canada, according to Friedman. Another report from Postmedia’s Patrick Johnston suggests that Keith desires to play for a team closer to his eight-year-old son, who lives with Keith’s ex-wife in Penticton.
Vancouver is notably both in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada. It’s also in the same province as Penticton. You can probably see where I’m going with this.
Fortunately, it looks like the Vancouver Canucks are off the table when it comes to a potential Keith trade. ChekTV’s Rick Dhaliwal has reported that the Canucks are not the destination for Keith, which should come as a huge relief to Canucks fans.
Old school Canucks fans who trust the eye test and those who lean more towards analytics might not agree on much, but they can likely all agree on this: Duncan Keith should never play for the Canucks.
Keith isn't the same player he once was
The underlying numbers favoured by the analytics crowd do not paint a pretty picture of Keith’s abilities at this point in his career. Sure, he’s won a couple of Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe, but he’s not that player anymore, even as the Blackhawks continued to play him like he is, putting him on the ice for over 23 minutes per game.
Among defencemen who played at least 500 minutes at 5-on-5 last season, Keith had the third-worst expected goals percentage (xGF%) at 41.88%, which meant the Blackhawks were badly outchanced whenever he was on the ice. If you up the ice time cutoff to 700 minutes, Keith was the worst.
(Fun fact: Oliver Ekman-Larsson is next worst in that particular statistic, which is further evidence that the Canucks shouldn't trade for him either.)
The simple truth is that Duncan Keith is not very good anymore. That shouldn’t be surprising — he’s turning 38 in a few years and very few 38-year-old defencemen still play in the NHL. I’m a year younger than Keith and I injured myself last week by sleeping funny.
In fact, Keith was the third-oldest defenceman in the NHL last season. He can be forgiven for losing a step.
What he can’t be forgiven for is his past history with the Canucks. Even Canucks fans who don’t care about analytics shouldn’t want him in Vancouver, because he’s one of the biggest villains in Canucks history.
Canucks fans can't forget Keith's elbow
Not only was Keith a member of the Blackhawks team that repeatedly knocked the Canucks out of the playoffs before Alex Burrows slayed the dragon in 2011, he was also arguably responsible for their early exit from the playoffs in 2012. The Canucks repeated as Presidents’ Trophy winners in 2012, but the stellar season was marred by an ugly incident in late March, just two weeks before the start of the playoffs.
That’s when Keith elbowed Daniel Sedin in the face in one of the dirtiest and ugliest plays I’ve ever seen.
Daniel missed the final nine games of the regular season with a concussion, as well as the first three games of the playoffs. The Canucks lost all three of those games to the Los Angeles Kings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Keith was suspended for five games.
Understandably, Canucks fans don’t like Keith all that much. Bringing him to Vancouver would be like signing Mark Messier after he beat the Canucks in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final. Thankfully, that never happened. It. Never. Happened.
If Keith were to come to the Pacific Northwest for another team, however, that would be pretty great.
Keith belongs with the Kraken
The Seattle Kraken are the NHL’s newest team and will be making their debut next season. There’s the potential for the Canucks to have their first true geographical rival , as the Kraken will be just a short drive down I-5.
What better to light the fuse of a rivalry than acquiring a player who is already hated by the opposing team? The Kraken could trade for Keith — they’ll have plenty of cap space for his $5.45 million cap hit — and immediately have a Cup-winning veteran to anchor their defence and engender hatred from Canucks fans.
Even better for Canucks fans, Keith would be a literal anchor on the Kraken blue line, making them easier to defeat. It’s a win-win situation, except the Canucks would be the ones actually winning.
This has to happen. This needs to happen. Get cracking, Kraken, and get Keith to Seattle.