B/R NHL Staff Roundtable: Where Should Jonathan Toews Be Traded?
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Few NHL players generate as much respect on the ice as Jonathan Toews.
The three-time Stanley Cup winner’s best playing days were thought to be behind him after a bout with chronic (inflammatory) response system caused his production to significantly drop. But the Chicago captain has had a resurgent season so far, posting 10 points in 15 games.
With just a year left on his contract and Chicago in the midst of rebuilding, “Captain Serious” isn’t likely to stay in the Windy City long term. Should Toews maintain his level of play throughout this season, a contending team should be willing to part with prime assets around the March 3 trade deadline.
The B/R NHL Staff called together another roundtable to assess which teams should be in the Toews sweepstakes and why.
Disagree with their takes? Share your thoughts in the app in the comments section.
Why Colorado Is the Best Fit for Toews
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Toews is still a quality player, but he’s no longer the high-end two-way center that he was in years past. Between his reputation, perceived leadership persona and Stanley Cup resumé, it’s easy to imagine a general manager throwing Chicago a ton of assets and banking on the 34-year-old coming in and redefining the team on and off the ice.
Whichever team trades for Toews needs to have realistic expectations and a hard line on what price is worth paying. As such, the Colorado Avalanche make almost too much sense.
The Avs won the Stanley Cup last season with a strong leadership core already in place and a franchise center in Nathan MacKinnon. They wouldn’t be asking Toews to rescue the team and teach them how to win playoff games. Instead, he’d quietly slot into the lineup behind MacKinnon and be one of many respected voices in the room.
Before the season, the Avalanche clearly needed to find a second-line center who could mitigate the loss of Nazem Kadri for a Stanley Cup repeat. J.T. Compher and Alex Newhook were the potential in-house solutions, but that hasn’t quite worked out so far.
Compher has been strong defensively but has registered only four points through 14 games. Newhook has yet to take the next step in his career and has been moved to the wing. Evan Rodrigues, whom Colorado signed from Pittsburgh after a career year, has plugged the hole for now, but he definitely belongs in the bottom six come April.
With only $6 million in projected trade deadline cap space, the Avs would have to get creative to make Toews’ $10.5M cap hit fit. But Toews has a full no-trade clause, so like Claude Giroux last season, he will be able to essentially pick where he goes. A true contender like Colorado would presumably be appealing.
The Avs still have their first-round pick in each of the next two seasons as trade assets. He’d be a great solution to their current hole at center.
– Adam Herman
Toews in Minnesota? Not So Wild
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Coming off a franchise-best 113-point
performance last season, the Minnesota Wild entered 2022-23 hoping to
build upon that strong effort. They’re off to an inconsistent start,
however, with only seven wins and 16 points in their first 15 games.
One reason behind the Wild’s struggles
is their lack of a reliable first-line center. They tried Ryan Hartman at that position last season, but he was eventually shuffled to the
wing before being placed on injured reserve. They’re currently using Frederick Gaudreau in that role.
That’s where Toews could fit
in, provided he agrees to waive his no-movement clause.
The Wild could prove to be an enticing
destination for the 34-year-old. Toews would have
the opportunity to skate alongside superstar winger Kirill Kaprizov
and the ageless Mats Zuccarello. He’d also be playing in a city
closer to his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Toews has garnered considerable respect
around the NHL as a solid two-way center and as a team leader. With
three Stanley Cup championships on his resume, the 2010 Conn Smythe
Trophy winner knows what it takes to win.
The Wild have never had a player of
that caliber on their roster since their NHL debut in 2000-01. While
Toews is past his prime, he’s showing this season that he still has
plenty left in the tank to give to a playoff contender. He would
provide the Wild with a welcome boost of leadership and experience
that could help them stage a deep playoff run next spring.
Playing for the Wild could provide
Toews with an opportunity to burnish his stock in the free-agent
market. A strong showing in Minnesota during the 2023 playoffs would
prove that he can still be useful for a Stanley Cup
Acquiring Toews could cost the Wild a
first-round pick or perhaps a second-rounder bundled with a quality
prospect. They currently have $11 million in
projected trade deadline cap space, but they could ask the
Blackhawks to retain a portion of Toews’ $10.5
million cap hit.
– Lyle Richardson
Toews and the Oilers Are a Match Made in Heaven
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While teams like the Rangers and possibly even the Avalanche make a bit more sense for Toews in the real world of contract negotiations—especially in terms of offerings going the other way—what if Edmonton somehow made it work?
The Oilers’ already rough secondary-scoring picture got significantly worse with Evander Kane’s injury (out 3-4 months), so they could use the help in that aspect, and they’ve needed center depth for years.
Toews is having one of his best starts in years with seven goals and 10 points in 15 games, and obviously he’s motivated for one last playoff run. He’s still an X-factor that can help any playoff team. I worry more about Edmonton’s defense and goaltending than I do about scoring, but Toews provides leadership and two-way prowess that makes the whole team want to be better on the other end of the ice.
Yes, the logistics would be a nightmare, and, yes, I’d opt for a cheaper defenseman at the deadline if I were the Oilers. But a player like Toews doesn’t come around often, and it would be awesome to watch him and Connor McDavid work together in a deep playoff run.
Nobody would expect Toews to be even a top-three impact player on the team, and with the pressure off I could see him contributing that much-needed defensive leadership while still chipping in offensively.
– Sara Civian
Toews on Broadway? Why It Would Work
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
By any measure, Toews has already had a stellar career.
He’s won individual awards. He’s hoisted Stanley Cups. He’s earned the respect of his peers.
But his road to additional championships with his current employer seems blocked.
So, given that he’s in the walk year of a contract and has seven goals in his first 15 games this season, it seems more than likely he’ll finish the schedule and likely his career with a new contending address.
The suggestion here? New York, New York.
The Rangers are already loaded with talent up front, not to mention a Norris Trophy winner on the blue line and a Vezina Trophy winner in the net. Which means they won’t need Toews to carry the team on his back like a similarly street-credded veteran named Messier did a generation ago.
The “Messiah” wasn’t just his new team’s leader.
He was its best player, too.
This time, all “Captain Serious” would be counted on to do is work the locker room and show a team already chock-full of highly skilled NHLers how to walk, talk and perform like winners.
Particularly when fall and winter warm-ups turn to spring and summer crunch time.
He’d surely win a key faceoff and score a key goal along the way, too, and if he’s able to replicate the feat No. 11 performed in 1994, he’d boost an already Hall-worthy legacy to the heights only a win in Midtown Manhattan enables.
Given Toews’ age and contract status, GM Chris Drury would be foolish to part with too many key future assets to get a deal done.
But considering the pressure faced being the GM of a title-hungry and revenue-heavy New York team, it’d be a dereliction of duty if he didn’t make a serious inquiry.
– Lyle Fitzsimmons
Homecoming for Toews Makes the Most Sense
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If any team should trade for Toews, how can it not be his hometown team?
No, I’m not trying to ship every
possible trade target to Winnipeg. But dealing Toews to the Jets would make a
ton of sense, not just for the sweetheart stories it would provide.
Winnipeg is in a very good spot right now, perhaps
unexpectedly. The Jets are near the top of the competitive Central Division and have some outstanding scorers along with Mark Scheifele and Pierre-Luc
Dubois up the middle. What they are lacking is depth.
Adam Lowry is a solid third-line center for the Jets. But if he was running their
fourth line while Toews gave their third line a bigger punch, that would make
them more formidable.
Toews is still a strong player. That he’s second on
Chicago in points and leads them in goals shows he can still be
productive offensively. His advanced
defensive numbers haven’t been superb over the past few seasons, but neither
have the Blackhawks in general. Being tasked with lifting a team that’s
slowly being dismantled is a big ask, even for Toews.
Toews’ all-around game, playoff savvy and ability to give
the Jets a better chance to match up against the major contenders in the Western
Conference makes acquiring him a superb idea. More goals, veteran knowhow, championship pedigree. Perfect.
What better storyline could you
ask for come playoff time than having the accomplished captain of multiple Stanley
Cup championship teams returning home and bringing the Jets deeper into the
playoffs than they’ve ever been? Sign me up.
– Joe Yerdon
Financial details from CapFriendly.
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