Blackhawks

Duncan Keith humbled by 'special privilege' of making NHL 100

Duncan Keith humbled by 'special privilege' of making NHL 100

LOS ANGELES – Duncan Keith rubbed shoulders with some of the league's greatest on Friday night. He chatted with Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg. He stood next to Mark Messier while looking at the picture of the former Edmonton/New York Rangers Stanley Cup champion. Bobby Orr, Nick Lidstrom, Ray Bourque, Scott Niedermayer, Paul Coffey, the defensemen who set the standards, Keith got to be around them all.

It was, as Keith said, "a pretty humbling and special privilege."

"I was watching those guys, studying them and just trying to skate and be like them on the ice," Keith recalled. "I grew up idolizing these guys that I got to meet [Friday night]. Those are guys that I think helped turn me into the player that I am today."

As awestruck as Keith was by those who came before him, the Blackhawks defenseman has started to garner that same reaction from many of his peers. It's for good reason: Keith claims three Stanley Cups, two Norris trophies, one Conn Smythe and now a spot on the NHL 100, a list featuring the 100 greatest players in league history, which was announced on Friday. For those who have watched what Keith's done during his career, he's earned it all.

"The first time I saw Duncan Keith, I coached against him in a Memorial Cup in junior hockey in Quebec City. At that time, no one knew he was going to be the Duncan Keith he's become but you could see it even then," San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said. "He controlled the tempo and the pace of the game. When you've got a guy like that, they're invaluable and he's obviously been a big part of their success."

To those who have faced Keith, it's not easy. Anyone who's watched the Blackhawks for any amount of time knows about Keith's endurance, especially during the postseason. 

"He plays over 30 minutes a night and just gets better and better the more he plays. His stamina and consistency, offensively and defensively, makes the players around him better," said Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman. "Playing against him, to this day, you try to pick up things from guys you look up to. Obviously he's at the top of the list when you look at players and what they can bring to your game."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Seth Jones, now with the Columbus Blue Jackets, faced Keith plenty when he was still with the Nashville Predators.  

"Three Cups and quarterbacking the blue line of those teams: he's really the guy," Jones said. "He's probably one of their more emotional leaders. I wasn't in the room but on the ice he seemed like their engine back there. He was tough to handle when we were in the same division, seeing him five or six times a year."

Keith certainly has the respect from the hockey world. As far as attention on the Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who were also named to the NHL 100, usually get the lion's share of it. That's just fine with Keith.

"I don't have to talk to media as much," Keith said with a laugh. "I don't mind it. I think Kane and Toews deserve what they get. They are what they are and you know, I always thought forwards always get more of a limelight anyways. They're the ones who score goals, and that's the hardest thing to do is score goals. We've had a lot of players in Chicago who have played big roles in Chicago and in the success we've had and maybe not gotten the notoriety, even myself. I don't feel like I need more or [that] I'm not getting what Toews and Kane are getting as far as recognition."

Of the conversations Keith had with fellow NHL 100 honorees on Friday, Keith said one he had with Sakic and Forsberg stuck out the most. Keith said he saw the close bond the two former Colorado Avalanche forwards had, and it reminded him of the one he has with some of his fellow Blackhawks.

"They won Cups together, they've been through a lot. Seeing how they interacted with one another, it reminded me of how myself, [Brent Seabrook] and [Patrick] Sharp and Kane and Toews interact with one another. That bond we've had over the years, especially when you go through a long playoff grind and end up winning, it's that same kind of feeling. The conversations I had with Peter and Joe reminded me of that a lot." 

Keith was humbled at joining the NHL 100. It was quite an honor, being named with some of the greats he idolized and tried to emulate. But Keith never spends too much time reveling in what he's accomplished. He's too busy trying to do more.

"I'm never satisfied in anything I've done because I don't want to ever feel like I'm resting on laurels. I'm always hungry to do more and that's what's part of makes me successful, what's made me successful in the past and to continue having success," Keith said. "I'm certainly proud of this but at the same time I'm not going to sit here and reflect too much. Because I know in the game on Tuesday in San Jose, they won't be letting me off easy because I'm in the top 100."

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

NHL Draft Profile: D Adam Boqvist

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Adam Boqvist

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 168 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Boqvist is a finesse defenseman who is very skilled, possesses excellent vision and tons of talent. He is fun to watch and full of surprises on the ice. He often plays bigger than his size and skated in his first games with Sweden's Senior National Team in April."

NHL player comparable: Erik Karlsson

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would love to have Karlsson, who is probably being traded out of Ottawa this summer. Every team would love to have him. But that's not realistic for Chicago. So what if they drafted his potential mini me?

Boqvist is electric with the puck and has drawn comparisons to the Swedish defenseman as a best-case scenario.

There are two concerns, though. One is that he may need some time to develop at just 17 years old and his defense a work in progress. The second is that he's sustained head injuries over the course of his young career, which adds a little bit of risk to the equation.

If he can stay healthy and his development isn't rushed, there's major upside here. But are the Blackhawks willing to be patient? We're not so sure.

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

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USA TODAY

Should the Blackhawks explore bringing back Artemi Panarin?

Here's an interesting development as we approach the NHL Draft: Artemi Panarin has informed the Blue Jackets that he's not ready to consider an extension "at this time" and because of that, Columbus is testing the market for the Russian winger, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.

Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen responded to the report shortly after in a statement released by the team:

"Artemi is an elite National Hockey League player. Our position has been that we want him to be a Blue Jacket for many years and that has not changed. He has a year left on his contract, so there is plenty of time to work towards that end. Should anything change moving forward, we will address it at that time and any decision we make will be in the best interest of our club.”

Ironically, Panarin was traded to Columbus on the afternoon of last year's draft as part of a blockbuster package that sent Brandon Saad back to Chicago. It shook up the hockey world, and has the potential to do so again.

Panarin is set to become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, but is free to sign an extension with Columbus on July 1. Clearly, that doesn't seem to be in the cards right now and it's why the Blue Jackets have to put out feelers. They can't risk losing him for nothing.

On the flip side, Panarin has every right to test the open market. He has one year left on his contract that carries a $6 million cap hit. He's due for a hefty raise, will be 27 years old next summer — the prime of his hockey career — and will certainly be looking for a long-term deal after accepting a bridge contract with the Blackhawks.

Speaking of whom, should his former team explore bringing him back to Chicago now that he's on the market?

Every general manager should and will do their due diligence and call for an asking price, Stan Bowman included. Those conversations might start with Alex DeBrincat or Nick Schmaltz, and if that's the case, you say thanks but no thanks and move on. 

The Blackhawks have the Nos. 8 and 27 picks in this year's draft as possible ammunition, but the Blue Jackets are ready to take that next step. They were up 2-0 in their first-round series before losing four straight to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It's unlikely they'd be looking to center a potential deal around draft picks. 

The only way you even consider it from the Blackhawks perspective is if Panarin is guaranteed to sign a long-term extension at a price you're comfortable with, but that's one of the main reasons why they traded him in the first place. 

To cap it all off, trading for Panarin wouldn't even address the Blackhawks' biggest need and that's a Top 4 defenseman. Those don't grow on trees. The Blackhawks will have the cap space to sign a player like James van Riemsdyk to patch up their top 6. You can't say the same for the free-agent blue line group.

So while it may certainly be fun for Blackhawks fans to come up with possible trade scenarios to get Panarin back in an Indianhead sweater, it just doesn't make great sense for a variety of reasons.