Admittedly, Duncan Keith looks good in an Edmonton Oilers uniform. While it’s still a trade that not every fan of the team is going to get behind, the veteran defenseman and two-time Norris Trophy winner has officially joined the team and was skating Thursday, taking reps and looking right at home.
There was some early controversy as to why the defenseman wasn’t among the first players out on the ice as the Oilers returned to the rink this week, but most of the criticism was coming from fans who grabbed the low-hanging fruit of his absence and looking for ammunition to further blast the deal. In reality, he was gone because of the reasons everyone knew he would be — his son.
Related: GM Ken Holland Says Oilers “Time is Now”
When Keith asked the Chicago Blackhawks for a trade, he was open about why. He wanted to be closer to his son in Kelowna. This is where he was to finish off some time together and it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. At the same time, these are simply informal skates and training camp hasn’t officially started yet. Keith is, in fact, early.
Keith is a player the Oilers are expecting big, but not huge things from. Unlike his most recent season in Chicago, where he played top-line minutes and was a No. 1 defenseman, he won’t be asked to pull those kinds of minutes in Edmonton. Still, the Oilers are hoping he’s a perfect fit in a top-four role, backing up Darnell Nurse. If Keith is playing 18 minutes per game instead of 24, that would be ideal.
Meanwhile, Keith is motivated and ready to prove he’s got a lot left in the tank. His move to Edmonton isn’t one where he merely hopes to finish out his NHL career the next two seasons and then retire. He’s coming to the wrong market if that’s the case. Not only that, he’s hired a new agent and the expectation is that he’ll be looking to play well enough to earn himself another deal when his current contract ends.
Keith Is a Big Part of the Oilers Playoff Push
Connor McDavid likes the addition. The Oilers’ captain noted: “I definitely think the time is now….The old excuse that we’re young guys is no longer.” He added that Keith’s intensity, skating, and experience will add a lot to the Oilers.
This isn’t just about adding a veteran defenseman with a glowing resume. This is about adding a player that will help the Oilers push at a time that anything less than deep playoff success is unacceptable. The Oilers are all in. They’ve spent money and built a team in Holland’s image. Keith is part of that image and he’s at camp now, ready to try and show his new GM that his hunch was right.
Next: Five Things to Like About the Maple Leafs Going Into the 2021-22 Season
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