The Blackhawks captain has not played an NHL game in over eight months. Assuming that he is returning to the ice in 2022, how will his season fare?
Chicago Blackhawks center and team mainstay Jonathan Toews shed some light at the end of June on a medical issue that forced him to miss the shortened 2020-21 NHL season. Thankfully, though, he did say that he planned to lace up the skates again for next year’s campaign.
This is going to be a defining year for the next era of Blackhawks hockey. If we’re to assume that Toews hits the ice healthy and ready to go, what kind of season can we expect from Captain Serious? After all, eight months away from NHL action can be an eternity for some players, especially given that the average offseason is around three to three-and-a-half months.
It is possible to look back at Toews’ previous history with the ‘Hawks. This is not the first occasion that the captain has missed some extended time. For example, during the 2011-12 season, he was plagued by post-concussion symptoms and appeared in only 59 games. Despite this, he still posted 57 points, including 29 goals.
Even in 2020, where Toews only played in 70 contests due to COVID-19 halting the season, he still put up 60 points. While this is obviously not quite a point-per-game pace, it is still a respectable number and is also right on the dot for his average career point total of 62.7.
Sadly, though, while Toews is my favorite ‘Hawks player, even I have to admit that he isn’t the player he used to be. The 33-year-old posted a career-low 52 points two years ago, and while he is still a workhorse player, he is decisively not the number-one center that he was at the beginning of his career, at least when it comes to offensive production.
At one point, Sports Illustrated even asked the question of whether or not the ‘Hawks should replace Toews. Now, I do not believe that will ever happen, especially since he has a no-movement clause. However, the team will still need him to contribute somewhat on the scoresheet in order for him to play into their plans moving forward.
Assuming that he misses a few games here or there next season, I still think that a healthy Toews could potentially have another 60 point year. Will he hit his career-high of 81 tallies again? It’s rather unlikely. However, he has had a comeback year after a long hiatus before. The 2013 season directly after his injury-shortened outing saw him get reenergized and he ended up having one of the best years of his career.
Overall, I think it will end up being an average tentpole season for Jonathan Toews, but then again, that is probably what the Blackhawks need. Perhaps just as important as his point production, though, is for the ‘Hawks to get their leader and heart of the team back. That being said, the return of Captain Serious, no matter how his year ends up playing out, will be a welcome sight to everyone.