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JAY COHEN and STEPHEN WHYNO
AP Sports Writers
CHICAGO (AP) — Duncan Keith is heading to the Edmonton Oilers in the latest departure of a corner- stone player from the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup core, a move that could help the club speed up a long-term rebuild.
Chicago traded Keith, a two-time Norris Trophy winner, to Edmonton on Monday along with minor league forward Tim Soderlund for young defenseman Caleb Jones and a conditional 2022 third-round draft pick.
Keith asked the Blackhawks for a trade to Western Canada to be closer to his 8-year-old son, Colton, after they spent long stretches apart last season.
“I knew I didn’t want to go those long periods of time without seeing him,” Keith said on a video conference call. “That was a huge thing for me, and I just felt like the Edmonton Oilers — right now it was a good fit, a great fit and I’m excited to start this new chapter of my career.”
No salary was retained in the first blockbuster trade of the NHL offseason since the Stanley Cup Final ended last week. Keith has two years left on his contract at a salary-cap hit just over $5.5 million. He turns 38 on Friday.
“You can retain up to 50%. If we were getting Duncan Keith at $2.75 (mil- lion), the price would’ve been a lot higher than it was today,” Oilers general manager Ken Holland said. “If we wanted to lower salary, we would have to put more assets with our offer.”
The 2022 pick becomes a second-rounder if Edmonton reaches next year’s Stanley Cup Final and Keith is among the top four Oilers defensemen in total ice time through three rounds. Asked what he had left in the tank, Keith said: “I feel like I have a lot. … We’ll see what happens when we get on the ice.”
Chicago general manager Stan Bowman said in a release announcing the deal that Keith “will go down as one of the best and most driven defensemen this game has ever seen.”
Keith is the latest member of Chicago’s three-time Cup-winning core to depart while the embattled Blackhawks attempt to rebuild their roster amid an investigation into sexual assault allegations from their 2010 championship run.
Longtime defense partner Brent Seabrook announced his retirement in March because of injuries. Blue- line staple Niklas Hjalmarsson was traded to Arizona in 2017. Captain Jonathan Toews said he expects to play in 2021-22 after missing this past season with an illness.
“Life rolls on,” Keith said. “It’s tough to leave Chicago. I’ve been there for 16 seasons, I was drafted there. It’s a great organization. We were always treated first class as players and were really part of kind of a transformation of that team and I just feel grateful to have been a part of it and play with so many great players.”
Jones just turned 24 and has 95 regular-season and playoff games of NHL experience. The brother of Columbus defenseman Seth Jones is under contract through next season at a salary of $850,000, slightly above the league minimum.