The Chicago Blackhawks are going to be one of the most-talked-about teams in the league until the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline passes. This is because they are set to be major sellers and players like Patrick Kane, Jake McCabe, Max Domi, and Sam Lafferty have been getting a lot of buzz in the rumor mill. Yet, in this piece, we will be discussing longtime captain Jonathan Toews.
Although Toews has a full no-movement clause (NMC), the 34-year-old has expressed clear frustration about the Blackhawks’ rebuild. As a result, it seems quite likely that the future Hall of Famer would be open to the prospect of joining a contender before the deadline passes. Let’s now look at three possible landing spots for him.
At the time of this writing, the Boston Bruins have a 39-8-5 record and the most points in the NHL. However, they also have lost four out of their last five games, so that could make them a bit more aggressive on the trade market. They have been discussed as a possible landing spot for Toews, and on paper, there could be a great fit here. After all, the Bruins are looking to bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston, and Toews captained the Blackhawks to three of them.
At this juncture of his career, Toews would be a very solid addition to the Bruins’ top nine. When looking at a specific placement for him, I could see him working quite well centering their third line with Taylor Hall and Charlie Coyle on his wings. However, they also could utilize him as their 4C and arguably sport the best center group in the entire NHL heading into the postseason. With that, his effective two-way play would easily make him a candidate for their power play and penalty kill.
To acquire Toews, the Bruins would need to trade their 2025 second-round pick and 2023 third-round pick as a starting point. However, due to their limited cap space, they would also need to throw in either Craig Smith or Mike Reilly with their 2024 third-round pick to make this deal work financially. With that, Chicago would of course need to retain half of Toew’s salary.
The Carolina Hurricanes also stand out as a prime potential landing spot for Toews. Like the Bruins, they are viewed as legitimate contenders, and bringing in a very talented forward like Toews could be the final boost they need to do just that. It is apparent that they should be aiming to strengthen their center depth, and they have cap space to work with due to Max Pacioretty being sidelined for the remainder of the season.
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The Hurricanes lost Vincent Trocheck this past offseason, and they have had trouble finding a permanent replacement for him at the second-line center position. Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Paul Stastny have not been legitimate answers in this role, but perhaps Toews could be. After all, he has a solid 28 points in 46 games on a rebuilding Blackhawks team, so it isn’t too far-fetched to believe that his production could go up while playing with better talent around him.
The Hurricanes have over $10 million of deadline cap space, so they would be able to afford Toews easily if the Blackhawks retain half of his salary. To make this move come to fruition, Carolina would need to trade their 2023 second-round pick and 2024 third-round pick. However, if they want prospects, they also could consider players like Ryan Suzuki, Jack Drury, or Jackson Blake.
In a recent piece, I predicted that the Colorado Avalanche will end up being the winners of the Toews sweepstakes. On paper, they seem to be the best fit, and it is hard to believe that he would be against playing for them. After all, the Avalanche are the reigning Stanley Cup champions and stand a very good shot of repeating once their roster becomes fully healthy again. Furthermore, adding another proven winner to their roster seems like a potential recipe for success for Colorado.
Similar to the Hurricanes, the Avalanche have had trouble finding a full-time replacement at second-line center for offseason departure Nazem Kadri. As a result, there has been plenty of speculation that they are on the hunt for a center, and there are not too many better than Toews currently on the trade market. If the Avalanche acquire him, he could work beautifully on a line with Mikko Rantanen and Evan Rodrigues. With that, he would also become one of their top penalty killers as soon as he arrives.
The one downside for the Avalanche is that they do not have a second-round pick or third-round pick until 2025. As a result, they would probably need to add a promising young forward like Ben Meyers to the deal to help make it go through. With that, Chicago would of course need to retain half of Toews’ salary.
Other teams that I could see as potential fits for Toews are the Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, and Washington Capitals. Yet, if Toews truly does end up being moved before the deadline passes, it will take some time to get used to him sporting another logo. We will need to wait and see if that does in fact come to fruition from here.