Chicago Blackhawks: Duncan Keith, 2015-16 Over/Under

By Matt Barbato

September is upon us and the Chicago Blackhawks will begin their third title defense of the decade in just more than a month. The team kicks off training camp at Compton Family Ice Arena on the campus of Notre Dame in just a couple of weeks, putting us a step closer to the end of a whirlwind offseason. Over the next couple of weeks, Blackhawk Up will project the stats of each player on the roster, using their career averages and numbers from a year ago and analyze whether that player’s stats will be over or under the projected total. 

This over/under series begins with the man who carried the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup defensively and rightfully earned the Conn Smythe award as the postseason MVP. Duncan Keith is the backbone of what was a very shaky defensive unit for the defending champs. Keith’s scoring numbers were right around familiar territory last season despite having to babysit some poor partners on the blue line.

2014-15 Projected Over/Under: eight goals, 38 assists

2014-15 Actual Stats: 10 goals, 35 assists

Keith was slightly better in the goal scoring department and slightly worse in the helper department than his projected stats, but these were pretty accurate. Keith led the ’Hawks in time on ice with an average of 25:33 per game. That was three minutes more on average than Brent Seabrook, who finished second in time on ice.

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2015-16 Projected Over/Under: nine goals, 33 assists

Prediction: Over

It’s tough to estimate how much gas Keith will have left in the tank as the season forges on and what his fatigue level will be after averaging more than 31 minutes of ice time in 23 postseason games. The latter could be the biggest determining factor of them all in how his stats will pan out.

Although Johnny Oduya is gone, the ’Hawks should have some competency alongside Keith on the blue line. Niklas Hjalmarsson and Seabrook return, but there are some question marks among the rest of the group. Keith may be forced to play as a babysitter for David Rundblad or Trevor van Riemsdyk if the youngsters struggle. If Keith is forced to play the watchdog and play a safer game, it will likely harm his season totals.

Keith is still a stud, but at 32-years-old and after arguably the most arduous season of his career, it’s tough to assume he can log the same kind of ice time in consecutive seasons. However, he is Chicago’s top defenseman in both facets of the game and will surely be involved plenty as the ’Hawks attempt to retool their roster after a string of salary-cap-related departures. It might not be by much, but Keith should exceed those numbers in his 11th season with the Blackhawks.

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