Selected: 54th overall in 2002 draft
Instead, Blackhawks select: D Johnny Boychuk (61st overall, Colorado Avalanche)
Boychuk was the second defenseman taken after the Blackhawks selected Keith, the first being unknown Denis Grot (Vancouver, 55th overall). While Chicago could’ve selected forwards Matt Stajan or Jiri Hudler, we’ll stick with improving the blue line.
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Boychuk is best known for his work with the Boston Bruins, with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 2011. The blueliner now plays alongside former Blackhawk Nick Leddy and others with the New York Islanders.
While Boychuk is a solid defender, posting a career Corsi-for of 53.6 percent and tallying 23 or more points each of the last three seasons, he’d be no replacement for iron man Keith. A two-time Norris Trophy winner and one-time Conn Smythe winner, Keith jumped in with the Blackhawks in 2005-06 and quickly became the de facto No. 1 defenseman.
His connection with Seabrook was also critical to much of the Blackhawks’ early success in this current era. It’s unlikely Boychuk and Seabrook would’ve had the same chemistry. Thus, the Blackhawks definitely would’ve suffered drafting Boychuk instead of Keith.