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Toews ranks as one of the most elite hockey players currently in the NHL. He was a third-overall draft pick in 2006, joined the Chicago Blackhawks on the ice for the 2007-2008 season and has not disappointed since.
In his first season, he was nominated for the Calder Memorial Trophy, which is given to the NHL Rookie of the Year (Patrick Kane actually won for that season). During the 2008-2009 season, he was given the team captaincy, becoming the third-youngest player to captain an NHL team. He’s won three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013 and 2015), the Conn Smythe Trophy (2010; was the second-youngest player to win it), has been a gold-medalist in two Olympics with Team Canada (2010 and 2014), is a four-time All Star, won a Selke Trophy (2013) and the Mark Messier Leadership Award (2015) and has secured other prestigious honors.
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Currently signed to a $10.5 million contract set in place for the 2015-16 season, it seems dumb to ask if he’s worth it, especially after the list above. But let’s look at what he achieved this past season.
Toews was on the ice for 104 of the 105 games played by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2014-15 season (including playoffs). Of that time, he spent 31.55 percent of it deployed on the ice under any given style of play. No Blackhawks forward spent more overall time on the ice than Toews, and the next highest was Marian Hossa at 29.888 percent. Of his eligible time, Toews spent 31.852 percent on the ice for Chicago, only to be beat out by Patrick Kane at 32.263 percent. (Eligible time skews time to adjust for injured players and refers to games in which the player dressed and was on the bench, rather than out with injury/suspension/etc.)
During this time, Toews scored 38 goals (13.15 percent of Chicago’s total goals), tying himself in productivity with Patrick Kane. The next closest in goals scored was Brandon Saad, at 31 (10.73 percent).
Probably one of Toews’ most impressive features and important when discussing his enormous amount of TOI is his deployment versatility.
Toews is able to spend time playing under almost any kind of style, from even-strength to the powerplay to the penalty kill to OT (4 on 4) to the shootout. He in entrusted on the ice in both the defensive and offensive zones to both create plays and drive possession, as well as suppress the opposition. We can take a look at just what that looks like in this shot-rate differential chart:
chart courtesy war-on-ice
What the above tells us is that he has excellent shot rates for as compared to the league, but also excels at suppressing shots when compared to the league.
But as you know, having solo accomplishments isn’t quite enough for hockey. What also matters is the effect you have on other players you are on the ice with. So let’s take a look at that.
If you’re not familiar with some of these abbreviations or terms, the entirety is listed at the bottom under “Resources” with brief explanations for your convenience. All charts can be clicked on to enlarge.
Below is a chart for a visualized WoWY. As we’ve talked about before, WoWY charts (With or Without You) are meant to showcase what a player does separate from another player and to try and see if that pairing is more successful together or apart. Ideally, we’d love to see both an increase in shots for and a decrease in shots against for BOTH players involved, but even just for one is an improvement.
(This chart was edited to include colored lines from an individual player without Toews to pairing for easier readability. No figures were altered in this change).
This chart includes players who were on the ice for a minimum of 100 even-strength minutes with Toews, and that includes: Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Michal Rozsival, Johnny Oduya, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad.
With Toews’ WoWYs, what we can see is he has the lowest 5-on-5 shots-against rate of all of the individual players included in this chart (Shots Against on the Y axis is better in the lower half) and one of the higher shots-for rates (x-axis; better to be toward the right).
The effect on both Toews and the other players:
- The pairings of Toews and Hossa (19+81) and Toews and Keith (19+2) created both an increase in shots for and a decrease in shots against for each of the players involved. This is great given how high each of these players’ time on ice is with Toews.
- In the pairings of Seabrook and Toews (19+7), Versteeg and Toews (19+23), and Rozsival and Toews (19+32), Toews saw an increase in shots for, but also an increase in shots against.
- Kane and Toews (19+88), Saad and Toews (19+20), Hjalmarsson and Toews (19+4), Sharp and Toews (19+10) and Oduya and Toews (19+27) all saw Toews rank similar or lower rates of shots against but also lower rates of shots for. All of these players see their numbers apart from Toews spiral down in the shots-against category, which is great and a testament to the defensive awareness of Toews.
- Roszival and Toews (19+32) is really the only pairing that sees both an increase in shots against and in shots for. It’s also worth noting that Rozsival’s increase in shots for is greater than his increase in shots against. Kane’s number with Toews at even-strength actually accomplishes a similar event, where the decrease in shots for is offset by the decrease in shots against.
- Versteeg is actually the only player whose apart score is almost indistinguishable from his together. Oduya’s is second.
What this tells us is that out of a possible 10 pairings, two see a betterment of both players’ numbers, which is almost a testament to the other player as well as Toews himself, and eight see a betterment of at least one player in one or more categories.
- Corsi: For those that are unsure of what Corsi is, it is measured as Corsi for and Corsi against. Corsi is the total number of on-ice shot attempts (on goal, missed or blocked) taken during a game/series/season. A player’s Corsi for tracks the total on-ice shot attempts a player is on the ice for. Corsi against tracks how many shot attempts the opposition records while a player is on the ice.
- CA%, Corsi against percentage (of total): What this means is they’ve totaled up the Corsi events that took place for both teams, and divided the individual team’s total by that number and multiplied it by 100 to get a percentage.
- CP60, Corsi per 60: What this means is they’ve totaled up the Corsi events that took place for both teams and divided it by 60 to get an average Corsi events per 60 minutes.
- G+/-, goal differential: The total number of goals for (GF) minus the total number of goals against (GA). If it is a positive number, the team is outscoring its opponents.
- FO%: The percentage of faceoffs won.
- OFOn%: On-ice unblocked shot attempts on goal
- OSh%: On-ice shooting percentage
- OSv%: On-ice save percentage
- PDO: On-ice save percentage + on-ice shooting percentage
- ZSO%, the amount of offensive zone starts: The larger the number, the more often a team or player starts (with a faceoff) in their offensive zone
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