Chicago Blackhawks: Is there value in an aging Toews?
By Shaun Filippelli
It’s no secret that the Chicago Blackhawks are far from the success of their recent Stanley Cup-winning years. With changes being made in the front office and throughout the locker room, where does their veteran leader Jonathan Toews fit in?
Selecting an 18-year-old Jonathan Toews third overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft has proven to be amongst the most important in the history of the Chicago Blackhawks. In his 13 year NHL career thus far, he’s already won the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, Frank J. Selke Trophy, and Conn Smyth Trophy. He’s also already amassed 345 goals and 470 assists, for a total of 815 points in 943 regular-season games. And that doesn’t even account for his playoffs production.
Toews is the most accomplished captain in team history. The Blackhawks have won six Cups, so far. And the rosters from 1933-34, 1937-38, and 1960-61 were all led by different captains. Toews has already earned three Stanley Cups with this organization. To top it off, in 68 post-season games throughout those championship years, he accumulated 64 points for the team along the way.
With all he’s already achieved, Toews has earned being compared to legendary leaders of the game like Steve Yzerman, Mark Messier, and Joe Sakic. Besides, in years to come, he’ll take over as the comparable legend for this next generation of superstars. But what is the outlook for the remainder of his career? What we know is that he is signed to the Blackhawks until the end of the 2022-23 season with an AAV of $10,500,000. What we don’t know is the added return of the value he’ll provide throughout the remainder of it.
To the surprise of many, and with the team missing the playoffs, Toews found a way to have somewhat of a breakout season throughout 2018-19 and his 12th year in the league. 35 goals, 46 assists, and 81 points in 82 games placed him second to only Patrick Kane for individual production.
Toews has always been a steady point producer, but this was a noticeable season-to-season jump, having earned 52 points throughout 74 games the season prior. Although the Blackhawks were again likely to be on the outside looking in for the 2019-20 playoffs, he had already accumulated 60 points in 70 games this past season before its pause. Not the same trajectory as the one prior, but still showing that he’s far from slowing down.
His production throughout the team’s recent struggles may be the most important point in proving his worth. It illustrates his determination to make an impact and lift this team when they need it most. Even though their results weren’t where they needed them to be, it didn’t stop Toews from putting in the work in an attempt to turn the tide for this team.
At 32 years old he is the fifth oldest on this current roster. It’s unrealistic to assume that Toews can continue this point pace for years to come, but he is the type of leadership that any team would covet. Even as the goals and assists decline, his influence will not. As this organization looks to make their recent struggles more of a detour than a direction, the impressionable and talented youth can only benefit from his type of mentoring.
Players like Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Adam Boqvist, Dylan Strome, Alexander Nylander, and Dominik Kubalik can be positively impacted in the most profound of ways from the caliber of a player like Toews. They can learn what it means to be a winner. And that is invaluable to the Chicago Blackhawks and the path they pave for their next chapter.
Jonathan Toews has proven time and time again that he is a true leader. His demeanor and drive have remained consistent, through both team success and lack thereof. He wants to produce, compete, and win. Assessing any season he’s been with this team will illustrate that, but watching him play will prove it.
The Blackhawks are lucky to have him, for as long as they possibly can.