Duncan Keith to Oilers hits a snag; Blackhawks don’t want to retain salary

duncan Keith oilers
Feb 11, 2020; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (29) and Chicago Blackhawks defensemen Duncan Keith (2) look for a loose puck during the third period at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Duncan Keith is seeking a new home address to lace up his skates. After spending all 16 seasons of his NHL career in Chicago, he wants to be closer to his family in British Columbia. His request for a trade was agreed to, but the Blackhawks want to play hardball with his preferred destination.

Blackhawks don’t want retain any salary in trade

The 37 year-old defenseman has two years left at $5.5 million per season with a full no-move clause. What has leaked from the negotiations is that Chicago doesn’t want to retain any salary.

Hockey Insider Frank Seravalli provided this latest update on his podcast.

The Oilers have had discussions with the Chicago Blackhawks. First off, there’s two things in play. One, Chicago is not willing to retain any salary, And the second thing is, whatever pieces the Oilers had on the table to try and make something happen, and I believe it centred around Caleb Jones plus something else, and you can understand why Jones was part of the picture because Chicago wants to also try and bring in Seth Jones, my understanding is one or more of those pieces has since been removed.

Frank Seravalli, via Daily Faceoff

Will the Oilers walk away?

duncan keith
Apr 19, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2) disagrees with a penalty call by referee Dave Jackson (8) during the second period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Kurt Leavins who covers the Oilers for the Edmonton Journal stated that they made acquiring Keith a priority. “I believe Edmonton’s #1 target in that regard is Duncan Keith, and that the interest between Keith’s camp and the Oilers is mutual,” he wrote.

However, the Oilers have to be cap conscious here. While they currently have $16 million in space they have three key RFA’s to sign. Dorninik Kahun and Jujhar Khaira have arbitration rights which they’d like to avoid going to an arbitrator. They also need to get Kailer Yamamoto locked up to a bridge deal.

And while Keith is a target, they are looking at Zach Hyman in free agency too.

It’s also understandable that Chicago is trying to conserve their cap space. It is limited at around $6 million, which will make it tough to get Seth Jones. However, they could eat a little salary to facilitate a deal. If they don’t I can see Edmonton walking away.