Blackhawks trade Duncan Keith to Oilers for Caleb Jones, pick

After 16 years in Chicago, Keith is heading to Edmonton — and the Hawks aren’t retaining any of his salary cap hit.

SHARE Blackhawks trade Duncan Keith to Oilers for Caleb Jones, pick

Duncan Keith’s 16-year run with the Blackhawks ended Monday.

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Defenseman Duncan Keith’s legendary run with the Blackhawks — three Stanley Cups, two Norris Trophies and nearly 1,200 games played — is over.

But by trading Keith to the Oilers on Monday, the Hawks positioned themselves to upgrade their defense in the post-Keith era.

The Hawks received young defenseman Caleb Jones and a conditional third-round draft pick in 2022 and didn’t have to retain any of Keith’s $5.5 million cap hit for each of the two seasons left on his contract.

The Hawks also sent American Hockey League forward Tim Soderlund to the Oilers in the Keith deal and acquired AHL forward Liam Folkes in a separate trade between Rockford and Bakersfield, the two teams’ affiliates.

‘‘Recently, Duncan came to us with a request to be traded to a team closer to his son,’’ Hawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. ‘‘We were happy to work something out that was mutually beneficial for Duncan’s family and the future of the Blackhawks.’’

Keith, who will turn 38 on Friday, had a no-movement clause in his contract and used that leverage to facilitate a trade to Western Canada.

His family and 8-year-old son live in Penticton, British Columbia, and he was able to visit them only once in a five-month span last season because of U.S.-Canada border restrictions.

‘‘The Chicago Blackhawks are always going to be in my heart,’’ Keith said Monday. ‘‘At this point in my career, being closer to my son . . . was a huge thing for me. The Oilers, I felt like, were a great fit, and I’m excited to start this new chapter of my career and try to win a Cup in Edmonton.’’

The trade gives the Hawks much more money, flexibility and available minutes to pursue one of the two elite defensemen — Seth Jones and Dougie Hamilton — available this offseason. Even outside of those implications, however, the Hawks came out ahead.

Caleb Jones, Seth’s 24-year-old younger brother, is a solid up-and-coming defenseman in his own right. He played in 93 games in the last three seasons with the Oilers, including 33 — in which he averaged more than 13œ minutes of ice time and had four assists — this past season. He’s currently a third-pairing guy who could grow into a larger role.

‘‘Jones is a smooth-skating, versatile defenseman who brings a well-rounded game to the Blackhawks,’’ Bowman said in another statement. ‘‘Caleb transitions the puck nicely with his legs or through outlet passes. . . . We believe his best hockey is in front of him.’’

Moving Soderlund, a low-value 23-year-old prospect who scored only five points in the AHL last season, gives the Hawks more flexibility under the 50-contract limit.

And as for the expansion draft, the Hawks no longer will have to protect Keith. Among the defensemen, they now will protect Connor Murphy and two of the three among Jones, Nikita Zadorov and Riley Stillman.

Keith’s No. 2 jersey almost certainly will be retired by the Hawks in future years, and he will go down as one of the best defensemen in franchise history. But his age and declining play became noticeable in recent seasons, even as he continued to lead the Hawks in minutes.

His departure continues a year in which many key people in the Cup era — from Corey Crawford to Brent Seabrook to Brandon Saad to Andrew Shaw, plus team president John McDonough — also have retired or left the franchise.

‘‘It’s tough to leave Chicago,’’ Keith said. ‘‘It’s a great organization, and we were always treated first-class as players. [I] was really part of a transformation of that team, and I just feel grateful to have been a part of it. . . . The last few years were a little tougher, but sometimes you need those tough times to appreciate the good times.’’

Keith was asked about the Hawks’ alleged sexual-assault cover-up in 2010 but said he’d ‘‘rather not get into anything like that.’’ He added it was ‘‘tough to . . . hear’’ about.

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