Oilers Could Use Jonathan Toews if He Comes Available

This past offseason, there was excitement in Oil Country about rumours of the possibility of Chicago Blackhawks’ forward Patrick Kane to the Edmonton Oilers. According to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, they called the Blackhawks before free agency and asked if he was available. Seravalli said, “I believe the Oilers have checked in on Patrick Kane, but at this time he isn`t ready to move.”

Recently, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman was on the “Oilers Now” show and the topic of conversation was whether the Oilers should move their upcoming first-round picks and illustrated that if a team is in a position to win it all, then they shouldn’t be hesitant to move picks. The topic then moved to the futures of Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Friedman mentioned that both players will likely wait and see which teams are in the fight before the trade deadline and then decide which teams they’d want to go to, and even went as far as depicting a role for Toews in an Oilers uniform. The Oilers were and potentially still are interested in acquiring Kane, but if they’re looking to make a splash and add a future Hall of Famer from the Blackhawks, Toews would be the better fit.

Patrick Kane is a Luxury the Oilers Don’t Necessarily Need

When news broke last July that the Oilers kicked tires on Kane, I wrote an article summarizing that although he’s one of the most offensively gifted players that has played the game, he’s not necessarily what the Oilers need. Edmonton has arguably two of the best offensive players in the NHL, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. When they’re playing on separate lines, they’re the play drivers, and they command the puck. Kane’s 168 assists over the last three seasons suggest that at this point in his career, he’s more of a playmaking setup man, than a goal scorer.

In the hypothetical scenario the Oilers acquired him, Kane would likely play in the top-six with McDavid or Draisaitl and would have to take a backseat to them as the main playmaker of the line — and playing second fiddle isn’t something he’s been used to over the last 15 seasons. For that reason, I question if he’d even be a good fit.

Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If any moves were to be made for a Blackhawks superstar, it would be a trade deadline deal to bolster the Oilers’ playoff roster. Taking a look at last season’s playoffs, the Oilers scored 65 goals in 16 games in their playoff run for an average of four goals a game. With the majority of their forward core returning this upcoming season, the Oilers shouldn’t have trouble putting the puck in the back of the net. On the other hand, keeping the puck out of their net is the issue — they gave up 55 goals in 16 games last postseason. Would Kane make Edmonton’s offense better? Probably. But if they are going to spend assets for a veteran, they should go after the more defensively sound Toews, who’d help lessen their goals against and would likely cost less to acquire.

Toews’ Two-Way Game and Leadership Would Benefit Oilers

Toews has an impressive résumé. He’s won three Stanley Cups and he was the second youngest player ever to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. In addition, he’s won a Selke Trophy and a Mark Messier Leadership award. He’s also a two-time Olympic gold medalist and has won gold at the World Cup of Hockey. He’s scored 852 points in 1,014 games and finally, he’s a future Hall of Famer.

At 34 years old, his best years are behind him. He scored 60 points in 2019-20, but he missed the entire 2020-21 season due to an illness and recorded 37 points in 71 games last season. That said, he’s 57 percent in his career in the faceoff circle, and he won 59 percent of his draws last season. His offense has never been as elite as Kane’s, but his defensive acumen and leadership are attributes the Oilers could benefit from in a long playoff run.

Toews Would Be an Ideal Third Line Center for a Cup Run

Toews could excel on a contending team with less responsibility. Friedman spoke of that last Friday, saying, “In Chicago, they see Johnathan Toews as the absolute cornerstones of a team that won three Stanley Cups. Now let’s just say, for argument’s sake that Johnathan Toews is traded to Edmonton, he’s not going to be expected to be the cornerstone. Maybe he plays (center) or wing with one of those two guys, don’t you think a guy like that could really thrive in a role (like that) at this point in his career? He added, “How good would he look as the guy taking the key faceoffs.”

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

Toews would be the ideal third-line center to take the tough matchups and shut down other teams’ top lines, something he’s built a Hall of Fame career doing. Also, picture this scenario —  an important playoff game, seconds left, the faceoff is in the Oilers’ zone, and you have him out there to take the draw. The odds would be in their favour with his 57 percent win rate in the circle.

On top of that, he’s no scrub offensively either, tallying 119 points in 137 career playoff games. Moreover, if the Oilers needed a different look in the top-six, he’d look great on the wing with either McDavid or Draisaitl and his big body can retrieve pucks and get it on their sticks.

What Would It Cost to Acquire Toews?

The Oilers have literally under $200 in cap space heading into the 2022-23 season, but it’s almost guaranteed that the current roster will not be the same after the trade deadline. Both Toews and Kane have a cap hit of $10.5 million and both of their contracts expire at the end of this upcoming season.

The Hockey Writers’ Jim Parsons wrote in the summer about what it would take to get Kane in Oilers’ silks. If a third team was involved in a deal to make salary work, Edmonton could move a first-round draft pick and a high-end prospect. With that in mind, I’d imagine it would cost even less to acquire Toews, so likely a first-round draft pick and a B-level prospect, like Carter Savoie.

Related: Patrick Kane Said to Be “Plan A” for the Edmonton Oilers

It would be a luxury to have Kane on this current Oilers squad and he’d likely improve their already high-powered offense, but if they are going to make a blockbuster trade with the Blackhawks, my vote would be to acquire Toews, one of the best defensive players and leaders the game has ever seen.


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