The Case For Trading Jonathan Toews
I was going to post more of an offseason shopping list blog this morning but pivoting to a Jonathan Toews discussion instead.
I will preface this blog by saying that I have not heard anything specific from my contacts on any Toews rumours or pending deals. I simply wanted to put a few of my own thoughts and educated guesses out as we all read between the lines of #19's play on the ice and what's been said to date this offseason.
We have all heard/read Rocky Wirtz's interview by now which ominously states that "nothing lasts forever" and that the "better players had off years". Both statements, although vague, could carry heavy meaning for a few Blackhawks veterans.
Most importantly he seems to be jumping on the PR train, where he also claims (almost threatens) that he does not regret the big contracts of Toews, Kane and Keith, however, now they have to earn those dollars.
Surely, he's not talking about Kane. He could be talking a little bit about Keith, who HAS to have a stronger year as he is so integral to that defensive squad.
I think the most obvious one on that list is Jonathan Toews. Rocky needs him to be better and attempt to earn as close to $10.5M as possible.
We point to his 52 points in 74 games as not being "that bad". I mean, c'mon, Justin, he's only ever topped 76 points as his career high; he's more of a 60-65 annual points guy, so it's not "that far" off.
Well, that's the dangerous thing about looking solely at the stats page on NHL.com is that it doesn't always give you the entire picture.
Now, we can get into advanced stats later on Toews, but I've watched him enough over the last decade (most of us have) to know that he's not the same player.
Let's look at a few Toews topics that are dominating the headlines and message boards:
If you type in Jonathan Toews Leadership in your google machine right now, there will be several impressive articles populate from the likes of NBC, NHL, Entrepreneur, LinkedIn, etc. The question that some might ask is that why all of those articles are from 2015.
Did Jonathan forget how to be a leader in 3 years?
The short answer, in my opinion, is no. Obviously, 2015 was the pinnacle of his career in terms of being the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, making him a 3-time champion as the leader of the team.
Since then, his play has really trailed off, whether it is due to mental and/or physical fatigue from playing so much hockey at this championship level. Since then, it seems the Toews vs. Crosby comparisons ended and his "leadership" was in question, but I believe that was because of his play, nothing to do with his presence off the ice.
Do I think that the Hawks will pull the unthinkable and strip Toews of his "C", Vincent Lecavalier style? No. However, I wouldn't be overly shocked if all of this Kane might be a better leader talk lands Patrick an "A" as there may be a minor shift in optics to the leadership message and to, let's be honest, give Toews a kick in the butt.
I don't have the extreme details of what Jonathan Toews does in the summer, but we all know that he, along with the rest of the team, has had a lot of time off over the last 3 years.
No, I will not comment on ONNIT.
All I know that shots were fired by Rocky and I'm sure Mr. Wirtz and the rest of the Blackhawks management know how to motivate their players and would assume Toews would take this as a bit of a warning shot.
Toews is a warrior. A fearless competitor. We have seen this in the past, but to me, that appeared to fade lately. Instead, he seems more concerned at complaining to the refs and being frustrated on the bench.
I personally would love to see him come back with the ultimate competitive spirit and let his play start to do the talking again.
Even if he doesn't come out and play in the newly formed CPHL (Chicago Pro Hockey League) this summer, I trust that he's in beast mode to set himself up for an Anze Kopitar / Eric Staal type rebound season.
Will he be traded?
I honestly believe that Rocky's comments were a warning shot. Whether that was the last one, who knows? It does appear that Rocky is upset and will be holding people accountable though.
I for one was happy to hear that. Elliotte Friedman commented on his 31 Thoughts podcast the other week that the Hawks will not tolerate being that bad again and they will be looking to do something big.
I don't believe that something is trading Jonathan Toews. For one, I don't think that his contract is that moveable right now.
The best-case scenario for Toews and the Blackhawks is that Toews has a couple bounce back years. It doesn't have to be 80-90 points, but more recognition around the league that he's back.
Then at that point, he'll have a couple years of steady 2-way play and 2-less years off his contract. Maybe… maaaayybbbe then he would be more appealing to a team.
However, if his play trails off, even more, this year, then yes, I do think the Blackhawks will have to get creative in moving his contract. It won't be easy though.
In conclusion, I think Captain Serious is been given one last offseason to sort things out mentally and physically. Personally, I'm on Team Toews and hope the guy comes back and proves everyone wrong… including his own employers.
See ya out there!