Oilers' Duncan Keith expected to retire after 17 seasons

·3 min read
By hanging up his skates, Duncan Keith would give the Oilers plenty of wiggle room under the cap. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
By hanging up his skates, Duncan Keith would give the Oilers plenty of wiggle room under the cap. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

One of the best defensemen in the salary cap era is calling it a career.

According to multiple reports, Edmonton Oilers blueliner and two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith has decided to retire, ending his 17-season NHL career.

A rookie when the league returned from the lockout in 2005, Keith spent 16 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, winning three Stanley Cups before a trade to Edmonton had him play out his final season with the Oilers.

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Keith finishes his career with 106 goals and 646 points in 1,256 regular season games, and an additional 91 points in 151 career playoff games. He was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner for his brilliant performance in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. The future Hall of Famer also won two Olympic gold medals as part of Hockey Canada's 2010 and 2014 rosters.

Keith's decision leaves an interesting financial wake involving the two teams he represented at the NHL level. Edmonton will, somewhat curiously, have Keith's entire $5.5 million salary at their disposal for this upcoming season and beyond, escaping cap recapture penalty. Meanwhile, in a strange stipulation written into the salary cap, the Blackhawks will be penalized fairly severely for being the ones to sign an age-35 contract which won't reach completion.

It's not particularly crippling, as the Blackhawks are actively tearing it down to the studs, but general manager Kyle Davidson will now have a little over $5.5 million less to spend in 2022-23 and an additional $2 million fee to pay the season following.

This is with Keith having just one season remaining on his deal.

Knowing that Keith was unlikely to play out the string on his contract when these teams were negotiating the trade last summer, the penalties and cap benefits, respectively, are certainly no surprise to either the Blackhawks or Oilers.

Ironically, the penalty might help the Blackhawks reach the cap floor.

Edmonton now has important wiggle room under the constraints of the salary cap. GM Ken Holland is believed to be interested in bringing back Evander Kane on a long-term agreement, and has to sign a free-agent goaltender with Mikko Koskinen exiting in free agency and Mike Smith also expected to retire.

So far the Oilers only have 12 players expected back next season under contract with roughly $20 million to spend.

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