Jonathan Toews bounced back in 2019-20, so what will he do as a follow-up? Playing with Patrick Kane and Andrew Shaw should help.
Ask any Chicago Blackhawks’ fan which player has the worst contract and nearly all will answer, Brent Seabrook. However, if we flashback a few years, the answer may have been Jonathan Toews.
Toews and teammate, Patrick Kane, both signed $10.5 million contracts in the summer of 2014.
The fans were ecstatic — these two were integral in the previous two Stanley Cups and would go on that year to win another Cup.
Now, flash forward to 2016. The Blackhawks were ousted in the first round by the St. Louis Blues.
Following that, the ‘Hawks had the best record in the West in 2017, but were swept by the Nashville Predators again in the first round.
The next two years saw diminishing returns as the Blackhawks failed to make the playoffs in 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.
Jonathan Toews Struggles
During the 2015 Stanley Cup season, Toews tallied 68 points. In the following two seasons, Toews’ production dropped to 58 points for each season.
Apparently, Chicago Blackhawks’ management felt this was a reason for concern.
Clearly, Bowman brought Saad back to add some chemistry from the prior cup run to the first line with Toews.
Toews and Saad failed to generate chemistry. Toews’ production did not increase. In seeming panic mode, then Coach Joel Quenneville played line roulette. Toews rarely played with the same line twice.
The constant change and Toews unenviable position of playing against the other teams best players sank his production. For the 2017-2018 season, Toews tallied 52 points, the lowest of his career.
A vocal minority was calling for his trade. Folks were frustrated with three straight seasons of mediocre results for an elite center with a huge contract. It was entirely unjustified and gives short shrift to all that he does for this team.
Jonathan Toews’ Career Statistics
When looking at Toews’ intangibles, they tell a different story. In 12 years with the Blackhawks, Toews has only registered one negative plus/minus rating, and that was a -1. He has also posted a +30 during this run.
Obviously, this statistic doesn’t tell the entire story, but the consistency does, especially when you consider the constant juggling of his lines during that time.
Furthermore, in all of his years with the ‘Hawks, Toews has never dropped below 53% in faceoff win percentage, and typically he has risen close to the 60% mark.
Simply put, Toews is clutch. His ability to win faceoffs is huge, especially considering the recent defensive struggles of the Hawks.
In all of those years, Toews has never had a Corsi rating of less than 50%. Actually, Toews has been over 57% five times.
When Toews is on the ice, the puck will likely be in the offensive zone with pressure applied far more than in the defensive zone. This doesn’t show up on the scoreboard, but is crucial to his success.
Finally, Jonathan Toews is the Chicago Blackhawks’ captain. He is the backbone of the team. He is affectionally called Captain Serious by the fans for his demeanor on and off the ice.
What some call serious, I call cool, calm, and collected. Toews leads by example, leads by encouragement, and, until the three-year scoring skid, lead by production.
That brings us to last year, the best year of Jonathan Toews’ career. Finally, he was able to put the detractors’ comments to bed. Toews potted 35 goals and picked up 46 assists for 81 points. It wasn’t by happenstance.
Blackhawks coaching, Quenneville and first-year coach Jeremy Colliton, placed Patrick Kane on Toews’ line. The chemistry built between the two over 11 years shined through.
Colliton wisely placed a young scrapper in Drake Caggiula on their line. He did the dirty work and allowed Toews to roam in space and pick up his production. (To find about the Caggiula effect, read about it here.)
Expectations for Jonathan Toews in 2019-20
With all of this being said, what can we expect from Jonathan Toews this year?
If the recent list of Top 20 centers in the league is any indication, it won’t be a repeat of greatness form last year. Bahhh, what do they know? Jonathan Toews is poised to have another great year for the ‘Hawks.
Number one, Toews will be playing on the same line as Patrick Kane. Like Toews, Kane registered a career-high in points last season with 110. Of those 110 points, 66 were assists.
Toews will likely be a recipient of some those, either in 5-on-5 situations or on the power play.
Shaw is a great two-way player. He will do the board work and cover the crease, allowing Toews to have more freedom. For years, Toews has had to do a lot of heavy lifting. With Shaw, that will definitely stop.
Last year with the Canadiens, Shaw registered 47 points in 63 games. With Toews and Kane, those numbers should go up. Playing alongside Toews and Kane should increase his goal production.
Of course, this is all dependent on Colliton playing him with Toews and Kane, but all indications would say he plays on the first line.
As with any prognostication, there are no guarantees. Toews could slide back to mediocre levels. Right now, however, two absolutes ensure a strong year for Toews:
1. Toews’ continued ability to come into the season mentally and physically ready to play.
2. Patrick Kane — the closest thing to death and taxes that the Blackhawks have.
As long as Toews is physically ready, and he plays alongside the greatest American-born hockey player ever, I predict another 80 point season for Toews and breaking the 50 assist mark for the first time in his career. Bank it!