COLUMN: Blackhawks should keep Toews at trade deadline


AP Photo | Matt Slocum

Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews (19) battles for the puck against Philadelphia Flyers’ Scott Laughton (21) and Cam York (45) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

By Alex Crowe, Assistant Sports Editor

The trade deadline is approaching in the NHL, which for Blackhawks fans means familiar faces may end up in different places. 

Contenders are gearing up to bolster their roster and bottom-dwellers are selling their top players for future assets and draft picks. 

The Blackhawks fall under the bottom-dweller category with a 13-26-4 record – good for second-last in the league – and are going through a rebuild. With players like Max Domi, Andreas Athanasiou and even Patrick Kane on the final year of their contracts, Hawks general manager Kyle Davidson will be getting plenty of phone calls. 

Yes, the Blackhawks can flip those pending free agents for prospects and draft capital, as is the case with every rebuild. But Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews should be the one player Davidson keeps at the deadline.

Toews holds a massive $10.5 million cap hit, which would make a trade with a contending team fairly difficult. This means even if Chicago retained half of Toews’ salary, a team would have to find $5.25 million to make room for the Hawks legend. The New York Rangers, who sit third in the Metropolitan Division, only have $1.2 million in cap space. 

Besides the fact that Toews’ current cap hit makes a trade difficult, his legacy and leadership role would be an important asset for a team hoping to have many young players in the fold over the next few years. 

Toews has been the Blackhawks captain since the start of the 2008-09 season and is currently in his 14th season wearing the “C” on his chest. Serving as the captain for an NHL team shows tremendous leadership, but to be captain for as long as Toews has gives immense credibility to his leadership skills.

Who better than Toews to act as a role model to young Blackhawks making the transition to the professional level? With draft picks such as 2023 seventh overall pick Kevin Korchinski, 2023 13th overall pick Frank Nazar and 2020 17th overall pick Lukas Reichel making the jump to the NHL soon, keeping a player like Toews in the locker room is important to their success with the Blackhawks. 

Not only is Toews well respected within the Blackhawks organization, he is also still a very talented player. 

At 34 years old, Toews is no longer in the prime of his career. Despite the concerns about his age, Toews, who is playing on a bad Chicago team, has accumulated 13 goals and 14 assists through 42 games this season – good for a 54 point pace over 82 games. Additionally, Toews has an incredible 63.87% win rate on faceoffs, which is the best in the entire league. 

This season shows that Toews can still contribute on both sides of the puck even though he is on the back half of his career. If Toews can keep up with this season’s trend, those stats would only improve on the good team Davidson hopes to build in the next few years 

The future is uncertain for multiple Blackhawks players, but Davidson must recognize Toews’ off and on-ice impact and keep him in a Blackhawks uniform.