It’s hard enough for some Blackhawks fans to imagine the team trading captain Jonathan Toews — the face of the franchise for 15 years. But to trade him for something as pedestrian as a second-round pick and/or a middling prospect? Inconceivable. Blasphemous, even.
Yet that’s where the Blackhawks find themselves as they bottom out to jumpstart what could be a long rebuilding process. This isn’t the Toews of 2013, a two-way superstar at the peak of his powers. This is a soon-to-be 35-year-old Toews, with a lot of hard mileage on him. He’s having a solid bounce-back season, with 14 goals and 14 assists in 48 games, after returning in 2021-22 from a year off due to health issues. And Toews is still held in very high regard by just about every general manager (and player) in the league. He brings veteran savvy, championship experience and can play in all situations. But on a truly good team, he might be no more than a third-line center. So the Blackhawks have tempered their expectations on potential trade returns accordingly.
Toews, like longtime buddy Patrick Kane (for whom we’ll do a separate one of these stories in the very near future), is in the final year of his eight-year, $84-million contract, and has complete control over his situation. He gets to decide whether he stays or goes. And he gets to decide which team(s) he’s OK going to.
So with the very large caveat that the answer to every one of these “Who says no?” proposals could be Toews himself, let’s dive into your trade scenarios to see which ones are realistic, which ones are long shots, and which ones are total nonstarters.
Toews to the Avalanche for Alex Newhook
Who says no: Colorado
Newhook is going to be a non-starter for the Avalanche. He’s part of their future. It’d be different if Toews wasn’t coming in as a role player or if he wasn’t likely just a rental. The Blackhawks probably aren’t going to get a first-round pick or a top prospect for him, as-is.
Toews to the Avalanche for a second-round draft pick in 2023 and a second-round pick in 2024
Who says no: Maybe no one
First off, any trade for Toews will likely require the Blackhawks to retain 50 percent of his salary. The team seems to be expecting that, too. Secondly, there are going to be so many variables if Toews does ask for Kyle Davidson to explore a trade. A major factor would be how many teams Toews would be willing to be dealt to. If it’s one, Davidson doesn’t have much leverage. If it’s multiple teams, he can probably push for more assets.