by PuckStopsHere on 02/25/09 at 02:10 AM ET
If the NHL had an award for most improved player, Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks should be a strong candidate for it. I doubt he would win it because players like him often fly beneath the radar of many fans. Keith is not a top scorer in the league. He is one of the best defenceman in the league.
Keith is currently tied for the NHL’s lead in +/- (with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci of Boston) with a +31 rating. The Boston players come from a team with a better +/-, so their standing is less impressive. Keith is currently 20th in scoring among defencemen with 32 points and among the league leaders with over 25 minutes played per game. Defensively Keith is one of the best players in the league. If the season ended today, I would nominate him for the Norris Trophy ( an award Mike Green should win).
Keith is a 25 year old defenceman with the Chicago Blackhawks. They drafted him in the second round in 2002. He was a rookie in the same rookie class that contained Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby in 2005/06. In that group, Dion Phaneuf has been hyped as the future superstar defenceman. Phaneuf has done well. Last year he was runner up to the Norris Trophy. This year, Keith has been the better defenceman of the two. It is probable that the two will both remain among the NHL’s best defencemen for several years. It is possible that Keith may have the better career despite the early Phaneuf hype (of course the opposite is also possible).
In the extra large rookie class of the 2005/06 season (extra large because it included the players who would have been rookies during the 2004/05 lockout as well), Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks has been one of the better players. This is despite the fact he was relatively unhyped at the time. He is a candidate for the Norris Trophy this year and he still flies beneath the radar with many fans. He does not get the appreciation he deserves for his high level of play.
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