In a recent edition of the 32 Thoughts podcast by Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek from Sportsnet, they discussed options for Bruins #1 center Patrice Bergeron's next chapter -- including retirement -- and whether Jonathan Toews would be pursued as his replacement.
It should be made clear that there aren't any actual rumors -- at least so far -- that Toews is being dangled to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. Instead, Friedman and Marek were merely entertaining the idea for sake of conversation.
Toews may not necessarily be the best option, though, to replace his Boston contemporary in Bergeron. While Toews sat out all of 2020-21 and his play in 2021-22 slipped in production and effectiveness as a three-zone center, Bergeron has remained at the top of his game.
Assuming Toews waives his NMC, more realistic destinations that he may be open to are Winnipeg and Calgary. If he goes to the Jets, he gets close to home. The Flames would be a chance to join a contender and add center depth behind Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund.
Of the top players on the Blackhawks -- Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Seth Jones -- Toews may be the most likely to ask out and be the easiest to move. He may not garner anything close to a king's ransom but some teams would have interest in his services.
What would Toews bring back to Chicago?
If dealing with the Jets, perhaps a deal that includes Mark Scheifele as the centerpiece is in the cards. Scheifele has been reported to have played in his last year in Winnipeg even though his contract has 2 years left at $6.125M AAV. He is 29 years old.
An enticing exchange could be had if Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson retains up to half of Toews' $10.5M salary. So just a year of Toews at $5.25M for Scheifele for twice as long at almost a million more per season. Would either side need to add a sweetener?
Switching gears, shipping out Toews to Calgary could mean increasingly maligned center Sean Monahan comes to Chicago. Similar to Toews, Monahan has one year left on his contract but at $6.375M which is more than Scheifele and more than Toews at 50% retained.
The oddity with Monahan is he's the youngest out of him (27), Scheifele (29), and Toews (34) but may be on the greatest decline offensively. Thus, if the Flames are getting the better player in Toews, could the Hawks get a coveted asset along with Monahan?
Obtaining a 1st rounder may be out of the question but what about a 2nd instead? Or one of their top prospects like Connor Zary, Jakob Pelletier, or Matthew Coronato? There's also goalie Dustin Wolf who played for Team USA for the last two World Junior Championships.
Then again, other teams may view Toews as being in sharp decline and not worth the investment. Or they may be open to trading for him but not pay through the nose to acquire. If headed to a contender, Toews is likely going to fill a middle 6 spot and not be the top pivot.
Another question is how would someone like Scheifele or Monahan fit the rebuild that Davidson is architecturing in Chicago? Furthermore, both Scheifele and Monahan have modified NTCs and one could imagine that the Hawks may be on their respective no trade lists.
The above trade proposals may be laughable to Jets and Flames fans alike -- or any other hockey fans for that matter. Yet, Toews to Winnipeg or Calgary may not be out of the realm of possibility either. Each team could benefit with Toews on their roster if the price is right.
One final scenario could be that Toews doesn't waive his NMC and decides instead to hang up the skates after he plays his final season in 2022-23. In this way, he remains a lifelong Blackhawk and gets the opportunity to fully recuperate from his ailments.
Even though it's only Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the offseason is still many weeks away, there are a few transactional periods coming up in the league including windows for buyouts, arbitration, and offer sheets. Will the Hawks be active?
If Davidson is given the green light to use buyouts, possible candidates could be Brett Connolly and Jujhar Khaira. There may be more ease to trade Khaira as long as he has a clean bill of health. Connolly passed through waivers without getting claimed this past season.
From the current roster, the Hawks players who are eligible for arbitration are Dylan Strome, Dominik Kubalik, Reese Johnson, and Caleb Jones. Kirby Dach, MacKenzie Entwistle, and Philipp Kurahsev are ineligible as they need 4 years of pro experience but only have 3 apiece.
At least this offseason, there's no viable player on the present roster who may receive an offer sheet from another team. Whether RFAs or UFAs, none of them are attractive enough to be offersheeted. A year from now, though, DeBrincat's contract is up so he may be a recipient.
See you on the boards!
Sources: Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Daily Herald, NBC Sports Chicago, The Athletic Chicago