Oilers 2023 Free Agent Targets: Jonathan Toews

The Edmonton Oilers are prepared to go all-in for a Stanley Cup championship next season after a failed campaign following a second-round playoff defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights in six games. They will be looking to make some minor changes in order to take the same core back to the playoffs next season and try to win their first Stanley Cup since the 1990s.

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One player the Oilers could look into, in the event they lose a couple of pieces in the bottom six to free agency, is Chicago Blackhawks legend Jonathan Toews who will not return after spending his entire career with the franchise, a majority of it as their captain. He is going to be one of the biggest names on the free agent market when it opens on July 1.

Who Is Toews & How Does He Benefit The Oilers?

Toews is a 35-year-old left-shot centerman from Winnipeg, Manitoba having most recently played for the Blackhawks, and is currently a pending unrestricted free agent that will hit the open market. He was drafted in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Blackhawks at third overall. He has played 1,067 games, all with the Blackhawks, and has scored 372 goals and added 511 assists for 883 points, which comes out to a 0.83 points per game average.

He played his junior career in the NCAA with the University of North Dakota and was named alternate captain during his second season with the team. Over those two seasons, he played 76 games scoring 40 goals and adding 45 assists which comes out to a 1.12 points per game average.

He quickly built a reputation as a dominant two-way forward. No matter what level he played at, he was able to transfer his game to an elite level and always be one of, if not the best players on the ice at all times. He easily transferred his game to the NHL level and will go down as one of the best defensive forwards in recent history.

Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Toews sits sixth in all-time scoring as a Blackhawk and eighth all-time in assists. He is one of the best players the franchise has ever had and has the honors to prove it. He is a three-time Stanley Cup champion, seven-time All-Star, two-time gold medalist, Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Frank J. Selke Trophy winner, and was named to the 100 Greatest NHL Players list for the NHL’s Centennial Anniversary. He is also the fifth-youngest full captain in NHL history, given the “C” after only 64 games, only being older than Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Gabriel Landeskog, and Vincent Lecavallier at the time he was given the responsibility.

Toews would be a bottom-six forward with the Oilers, but that’s exactly what the team needs. Assuming they lose Nick Bjugstad, there would be a big hole on the third line. Toews’ veteran leadership and winning experience all throughout his career is something that would benefit any team, but something the Oilers need if they want a better chance of winning it all.

The Oilers have tightened up and shifted to a much stronger defensive game under head coach Jay Woodcroft, so Toews falls under that category as well. He is able to shut down and close players off along the wall and knows how to read the play well enough to pick up for his defensemen when needed. He’s a player many fans will enjoy, as he plays the game in a way that will help keep the puck out of the net.

How Much Would It Cost The Oilers?

As I mentioned earlier, the next contract for Toews will be a lot cheaper than the $10.5 million a season he earned with the Blackhawks. I would predict the Oilers pull the trigger on a one-year contract worth under $1.15 million a season, which is the maximum number that the Oilers, or any team, can bury in the minors.

I would hope the Oilers and Toews can come to an agreement during free agency and make something work. He is an all-time legend of the game, so while it would be really cool to have him on the team just for his name alone, he would provide the leadership needed to help the Oilers over the hump and back into the push for a championship.

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