Early summer was a weird time in Edmonton, and well, there were some odd rumours floating around.
It all kicked off in early July where on the 10th, I highlighted some suggestions the Chicago Blackhawks were asking the Oilers for one of Ryan McLeod or Ethan Bear in a deal.
While Bear was eventually traded for Warren Foegele and Caleb Jones was the one sent for Keith, the initial rumour sent Edmonton into a tizzy.
Here’s some of what I wrote about the rumour:
I understand this from Chicago’s perspective. Keith is a two-time Norris winner, a one-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner, three-time Stanley Cup Champion, a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and one of the best to ever don a Chicago jersey. Is it a surprise Stan Bowman asked for Ryan McLeod and/or Ethan Bear? No. Is it laughable? Yes. Would I consider breaking off trade discussions? Also yes.
Ethan Bear has established himself as a legit top-four defenceman in the NHL. His WAR contributions offensively and defensively at even strength place him in the 67th and 77th percentiles, respectively, all the while facing some tough competition in the 77th percentile.
His raw numbers don’t jump out at you with eight goals and 33 points in 132 career games, but he’s already carried his weight as a top-pairing defenceman in 2019-20 and doing a good job in that.
At 23-years-old, the world is his oyster and his game is going to continue to improve for the next number of years. That’s an invaluable asset to the Oilers organization.
McLeod, meanwhile, appears to have all the workings of a legit top-nine threat in the NHL. He thinks the game at a very high level and has produced lots of offence at every level he’s played at in the last two years.
The Oilers were right in turning down both asks from Chicago and the game of at and mouse continues between the two clubs.

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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]