Hawks Insider

Why Duncan Keith is the best Hawks defenseman ever

/ by Charlie Roumeliotis
Presented By Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Hawks Insider
Duncan Keith

Another franchise icon is on the move.

On Monday, the Blackhawks traded three-time Stanley Cup champion Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers, granting the 37-year-old defenseman's wish to finish his NHL career in a market that's closer to his son in Western Canada. He has two years left on his 13-year contract that carries a $5.538 million cap hit.

It's a bittersweet moment for the city of Chicago, which realizes a new era has arrived yet remains uncomfortable with the thought of Keith wearing a uniform that doesn't have a Blackhawks logo on it.

Keith was drafted by Chicago in the second round (No. 54 overall) of the 2002 NHL Draft and what he accomplished over that span makes him the greatest defenseman in the Original Six franchise's history. 

Just look at where he ranks among Blackhawks defensemen:

• Games played: 1st (1,192)

• Assists: 2nd (520)

• Points: 2nd (625)

• Goals: 3rd (105)

Where Keith cemented his legacy, however, is in the postseason. No Blackhawk has logged more minutes (3,781:00) and no Blackhawk defenseman has registered more even-strength goals (16), game-winning goals (five), assists (68) and points (86) in the playoffs than Keith.

One of only 13 defensemen in NHL history to win the Norris Trophy multiple times, Keith's top career highlight came in 2015 when he was unanimously voted the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP after recording three goals and 18 assists for 21 points in 23 games.

The most impressive part? Keith averaged 31:07 of ice time during Chicago's 2015 Stanley Cup run, which is the second-highest average by any skater in a single postseason from a Stanley Cup champion since the league began tracking time on ice in 1997. Only Niklas Lidstrom (31:10) had a higher average for the 2002 Detroit Red Wings.

 

Keith has been the pillar of the Blackhawks' blue line for the last 16 seasons and finished as their time on ice leader in every single one of those years. Even last season, at age 37.

It's only a matter of time before Keith has his No. 2 sweater raised to the United Center rafters. The question is whether that will happen before or after his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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