Blackhawks News & Rumours: Toews, Kane, Domi, Mrázek

Given the volume of activity that the Chicago Blackhawks have orchestrated this offseason, it will take some time to accurately assess the impact of the respective moves. Let alone what it all means for the immediate future of this franchise and how those that represent it are left feeling as a result.

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This edition of Blackhawks News & Rumours will centre around the roster leading the way for the club’s current direction and the polarizing perspectives that parallel that path.

Toews Isn’t a Happy Blackhawk

Whether witnessed via his on-ice demeanour or post-game word choice, it’s become apparent to onlookers that Jonathan Toews has been less than enthusiastic about the state of this organization of late.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)

Toews has recently taken his disdain a step further, making it abundantly clear that he’s nowhere near being excited about what lies ahead for this lineup.

While it’s Toews’ right to share such raw emotion regarding his team, it has to be disheartening for their most loyal supporters to experience such apathy from Chicago’s current captain.

The reality is, this roster won’t be doing much winning any time soon. But that doesn’t mean that Toews can’t still play a pivotal role in their progress. Great leaders focus less on the fall and more on the rise.

Although he won’t produce as he did during his peak, Toews can set the tone necessary to evoke the work ethic required to win in this league. His trophy case would certainly suggest that he knows what it takes.

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If Toews can find a way to alter his attitude toward this team, which has been fuelled by negativity for years, his impact on propelling Chicago’s progress could be unparalleled. However, in order for things to play out that way, he’ll have to rethink his approach prior to their next puck drop.

Toews has an opportunity to influence the next generation of Blackhawks — one way or the other. Time will tell whether or not he can return to being the type of captain Chicago needs him to be.

Kane Trade Rumours Continue

Back before the 2021-22 campaign had even reached its conclusion, Kyle Davidson made it clear that the only untouchables on Chicago’s payroll were those with no-movement clauses (NMC) — Jonathan Toews, Seth Jones, and Patrick Kane. Unless, of course, any of those respective athletes opted to permit that he extract value out of their services, too.

Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers)

While it’s not necessarily clear if Kane has given Davidson the go-ahead in that regard, his name continues to find itself included in a variety of trade rumours. The latest of which suggests that the Dallas Stars are among those looking to acquire his assistance.

It’s difficult to gauge what Kane would fetch in such a negotiation, but Davidson’s recent moves have made his mandate pretty clear — stockpile picks. Dallas has most of their early-round selections throughout the upcoming drafts intact, which works to their advantage. Especially if the other teams expressing interest aren’t as well equipped in that regard.

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That all said, these are merely rumours and nothing more at this point. For now, Kane remains pencilled into Chicago’s opening night lineup.

Domi Followed Former Coach

Included in the plethora of activity Davidson managed when free agency opened up this offseason, was the acquisition of Max Domi.

Max Domi, former Carolina Hurricane
Max Domi, former Carolina Hurricane (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Once a highly touted prospect, Domi hasn’t necessarily lived up to the hype in recent years. That, combined with the fact that he was only signed to a one-year deal, made his long-term fit with the franchise less than clear.

However, Domi shed some light on the situation that adds a different layer of context. Rather than this just being another stop along the way, while Chicago benefits from filling out their depleted roster, he chose to navigate to Chicago.

Yet another of Luke Richardson’s former players that have helped make it clear that Chicago made the right choice in hiring him as their newest head coach. Richardson was the assistant coach for the Montreal Canadiens during Domi’s tenure with the club.

In fact, Domi achieved his best numbers to date under Richardson’s watch, accumulating 72 points through 82 contests in 2018-19. That year, Domi set career highs in goals, assists, plus/minus, average time on ice, faceoff wins, blocks, hits, and takeaways.

“Max is an energetic guy,” Richardson said. “He’ll feed off the exciting electricity of the crowd here in Chicago and the city. That’s where he flourishes. You saw him in junior, he did it in London and the world juniors. He was probably one of the best players in the tournament, if not. And his first year in Montreal, the exciting Saturday nights on Hockey Night in Canada in Montreal, he lives for that.”

Despite a decline in production since, it’s not as though Domi hasn’t shown a type of skill set throughout the years that proves he’s exactly where he belongs.

Given the enthusiasm surrounding his reunion with Richardson, there’s no reason to doubt his ability to elevate on a more consistent basis in Chicago. Both he and his new hometown surely hope that’s the case.

With all signs pointing to the Blackhawks relying on Domi quite a bit in 2022-23, that offers the 27-year-old a perfect scenario to prove skeptics wrong while working to maximize his worth before he hits free agency next offseason.

Mrázek Excited to Play More

It’s safe to say that Petr Mrázek was looking forward to a change of scenery, following his worst season statistically. Despite being part of a strong Toronto Maple Leafs lineup in 2021-22, he didn’t make much of the opportunity through the only 20-game sample size he was able to manage.

Petr Mrazek, former Toronto Maple Leaf
Petr Mrazek, former Toronto Maple Leaf (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With a cap hit of $3.8 million through 2023-24, it seemed like a tall task for Kyle Dubas to move Mrázek. Until he and Davidson got to talking, that is.

By taking on Mrázek’s contract, Chicago was able to help Toronto in a way that benefited both sides. Ultimately, the Blackhawks landed their next No. 1 goaltender and upgraded picks at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in the process.

While most of Davidson’s moves thus far appear to be merely filling voids, these are athletes that have something to prove. Despite Mrázek’s lacklustre campaign in Toronto, he’s done more winning than losing over his 10-year career, averaging numbers far better than those he accumulated during his time as a Maple Leaf.

Rather than fixating on the challenge that lies ahead in starting for a rebuilding squad, Mrázek being focused on getting back to form and having fun should be beyond refreshing for Blackhawks fans. At least some of this torn-down team will be looking to compete on a nightly basis.

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That newcomers have chosen to see joining a struggling Blackhawks organization as an opportunity should help compensate for any selfishness that their most recognizable names have displayed. It’s good to know that Chicago can rely on their newest additions to breathe some optimism into that locker room.