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Morning Flurries: A looming Duncan Keith trade and threats of an offer sheet for Cale Makar

It’s rumor season in the NHL

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NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With only two teams remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, this is the time of year when there are more rumors swirling around the NHL than actual news. The latest one to grab attention of the league is that Duncan Keith may have played his last game with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Once the best defensman in the NHL, Keith is nearing the end of his career and is now a shell of what he once was. Playing above his head on a bad Chicago team last season, Keith has some of the worst defensive numbers in the entire league so it makes sense that the Blackhawks would look to move him and his inflated salary cap hit.

After breaking the news on Wednesday, Elliotte Friedman has now put the Edmonton Oilers as the front runner to acquire the 37-year old defender.

There is the potential for Keith to bounce back if he is played in a lesser role and a coach is able to shelter him but given his performance over the last few seasons, there are likely a couple GMs that are still fixated on the name more so than what he can actually do on the ice.

To put it in perspective, these are the defenders who had the worst xGF% in the NHL last season. It’s not surprising so many of them - Keith included - are on the trade block.

Whole Duncan Keith looks like he’s on his way out of Chicago, another Blackhawks legend is trying to make his way back. Jonathan Toews was skating at the team’s practice facility this week for the first time after missing the entire season with a mysterious illness.

Toews opened up to the media and fans for the first time since it was announced he was sick. In a conversation with The Athletic, Toews spoke about how contracting COVID-19 led to his body shutting down do to something called chronic immune response syndrome.

In the conversation, Toews referred to himself as a “COVID long-hauler” as he isn’t sure exactly how the disease will impact him long term, just that he knows his body and healthy may never go back to where they were earlier in his career.

He made sure to mention that he’s still not 100% and that continuing his NHL career is not a given but Toews is hopeful that he will be able to be ready for the start of next season.

There was an actual trade that happened this week - one that will impact the Avalanche when the old Divisions are re-united next season.

The Nashville Predators have sent Viktor Arvidsson to the Los Angeles Kings for a second and third round pick. This is the first real salary dump of the offseason as Arvidsson is owed $12.75 million over the next three seasons. The move shows the team are going to be forced into making some tough decisions and that ones with cap space - like the Kings - will be able to grab some very nice players at a discount on the trade market.

While not much to it, there has been some Avalanche chatter on the rumor mill as Pierre Lebrun has reported that if there is any RFA that will recieve an offer sheet this summer, it’s most likely to be Cale Makar. LeBrun had this to say about the situation”

First of all, believe me when I say the Colorado Avalanche internally are cognizant that this possibility might lurk out there and are guarding against it. They’re a smart front office and will be prepared for anything.

Secondly, no question the Avs would match any single offer sheet to their prized blueliner.

Third, there’s zero evidence Makar and his camp led by agent Brian Bartlett have any plans to seek one out at this juncture. By all indications, Makar loves it in Denver and wants to simply sign a fair deal in his second contract.

Makar isn’t going anywhere but the threat of an offer sheet does man that Sakic might be forced to work on an extension with Makar quicker than he did with Mikko Rantanen - the last time on of his star players was coming out of an entry-level contract.