Something In The Way – C.I.’s ’15-’16 Season Preview: Jonathan Toews

Let’s move from the new guys, some of whom come with a fair bit of mystery, to the surest bet the Hawks have among the forwards, and maybe the roster, in captain and #1 center Jonathan Toews. It almost seems silly to do a preview of Toews, because we know what we’re getting. He’s going to take on some of the toughest competition, he’s almost always going to outplay it, he’s going to score between 28-32 goals, 66-78 points, be a possession monster, and just when you wonder if he’s having a disappointing playoffs he’ll win a game by himself. And then Ryan Kesler will tell us this is the year he’s got him. At 27, Toews is certainly ensconced in his peak years, and should be for a little while yet.

Last Season: 81 games, 28 goals, 38 assists, 66 points, +30, 36 PIM, 55.4% Corsi (+3.1% Relative), 50.9 Corsi Competition

I suppose, if you really wanted to, you could argue there’s been something of a decline in Toews’s offensive production from the age of 25, which isn’t unheard of. Both in ’11-’12 and the ’13 season Toews put up point-per-game seasons, though both were shortened through either injury or a Bettman lockout. He hasn’t averaged a point-per-game since, not that anyone is sneezing at 134 points over two seasons. Also, that Corsi, as dominant as it is, isn’t the 58+ that Toews had put up the previous three seasons.

The counter argument, if one is even needed, would be that in the past couple years Toews’s role has changed every so slightly. Two seasons ago, Dave Bolland and/or Marcus Kruger was taking the toughest assignments defensively. And Kruger still does, but the past two seasons it has been a common sight to see Toews playing the other teams’ top line, playing mine-sweeper as it were so that the Hawks forward depth could win out. Basically, Q was saying that even if you can match the top line, and the second line, chances are you can’t match our third and fourth.

Still, that seems a stretch of an argument, given the numbers and the way Toews pushed around whoever he faced. As stated, you know exactly what you’re getting with Toews. It’s basically metronomic.

This Season’s Outlook: I guess the only thing to watch with Toews, other than injury or fatigue, is how his usage by Q indicated what the coach thinks of his scoring depth. If he thinks he really needs Toews’s to be constantly scoring and approaching 80 or even 90 points, you might see Kruger take the grenade-diver role to get Toews and Hossa some easier matchups and a better chance of scoring. I think the Hawks’ forward depth could turn out to be pretty impressive, but it would involve a few unknowns proving to be contributors (Panarin, Teuvo over a full season, Tikhonov possibly, Anisimov, Dano, etc…).

Of course, if Toews starts the season in any kind of funk everyone’s going to blame the Brandon Saad trade and won’t that be a blast?

Most likely, I think Q likes the depth he has and will continue to use Toews as all things to man. It’ll keep him from putting up eye-popping numbers, which will probably keep him from every contending seriously for a Hart Trophy. Not that his production will be bad (it had better not be, that would be trouble).

Of course, everyone should have a little caution over what Toews will look like after three straight extended runs well into the spring. Anze Kopitar did that before last year and he saw a major dropoff in production (though the Kings ask even more of Kopitar if that’s even possible). Toews has played 269 games the past three years, playoffs and regular season. It’s a lot of mileage for anyone. But that’s just about the only worry.

  • Matt

    Is there one thing in particular that stands out about Toews’ play? It kind of seems like he’s just very good (let’s call it top 10 in the league) at almost everything but not AMAZING (i.e. top 3 league) at one particular thing, aside from leadership. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it 11 times out of 10, but if someone asked me what Toews was best at on the ice I’d have a hard time answering him or her.

    • AirTrafficAJ

      He’s consistently 1 or 2 in faceoffs, so there’s that.

    • Wadded Beef

      Faceoffs and shootouts.

    • Sopel the catfish

      Pretty sure he is usually in the top 3 for takeaways too (it had been a carousel of him, Hossa, and Datsyuk IIRC)

    • Jane Doe

      He’s usually in that silly little “Selke-thingy” top 3 every year. I guess you could start there.

      If the person you’re explaining it to doesn’t buy that garbage I would move right to the, “he *always* has the best mutton chops in June” argument.

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      In any sport I’ve ever watched – and Jordan notwithstanding 6 standard deviation outlier – Jonathon Toews is THE single greatest
      *winner* – as in THE guy you want on your side when it’s all on the line.

      As just one example game 6 last WCF in Anaheim. Period. I rest my case your honor.

      I’m ranking rank Toews in Bill Russell level category. And even higher than my all-time personal jock hero, Walter Payton.

      • 60MinutesBaby60

        Full disclosure tho: Win lose or draw my all-time “Captain” will always be Walter Payton. VERY thankful he got that ring to certify his champ-ness..

    • ZigZags82

      He is AMAZING in everything. He’s Jonathan Toews. Enough said.

  • KOfan

    It’s always a foregone conclusion that Crosby, Ovi, or someone else is the best player overall. I don’t come from a lifetime of hockey, but to me, guys that play on the PP and, more importantly, the PK have to be considered. Will someone more enlightened tell me why Toews and Kopitar are generally laughed at when somebody puts them in the best player conversation? Is it that those other guys are so good offensively? Seems lame – sometimes Ovi doesn’t even pretend to play D. Is the analogy to the slugger who sux defensively or DHs?

    • 60MinutesBaby60

      Excelllent analogy the “No D” slugger.

      I’m starting an NHL club Toews is my #1 pick – no question about that.
      Kopitar would be in my top 5, his teammate Drew Doughty would be my #2. Sid & Ovi great great players no doubt but neither would be in my top 10.

  • jordyhawk

    The guy is good at everything.

  • Pilotefan

    Pick a current player to build a franchise around.
    ‘Nuff said.

  • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

    Not the best skater, not the best shooter, but the best defensive forward (Ask Getzlaf and Stamkos) and the best all around player in the game today. Remember how the 17 seconds started with his lift of a stick on a clearing attempt.