It’s been another tough go for the Chicago Blackhawks this season as the club toils near the NHL’s basement on the heels of a 27th-place finish a season ago. As the 2023 NHL trade deadline approaches and with Connor Bedard ripe for the taking with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, the Blackhawks are going to be a team to watch as we move toward the March 3 deadline.
It could also mean the end of an era for Blackhawks hockey. Both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will see their identical 10-year contracts expire at season’s end and we should expect no shortage of trade speculation surrounding the two franchise legends as a result. On Monday, the latter addressed such speculation in a one-on-one sitdown with NBCSChicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis, seemingly coming to terms with the situation both he and the club are facing at the moment.
“Part of myself doesn’t want to admit the situation and wants to continue being a Blackhawk and finish my career here. Same time, part of me sees the writing on the wall. Team is trying to hit the reset button and maybe change for everybody is not such a bad thing.”
Toews has skated in 1,054 regular-season contests with the team that drafted him third overall in 2006, notching 369 goals and 876 points in that time. He’s also played 137 postseason contests, collecting 119 points along with three Stanley Cups in a five-year span between 2010 and 2015. He was named the 34th captain in franchise history at the age of 20 beginning in the 2008-09 season.
Trades Would Boost Reset, Shot at Landing Bedard
If there was ever a season to aim for the bottom of the NHL standings, it’s this one. With Connor Bedard recently putting on a clinic at the World Junior Championship, the race to the bottom of the NHL standings — and the best shot at landing the No. 1 pick in the draft lottery — will be in full force for the remainder of the season. Potential trades of Toews and Kane would accomplish two things.
The Blackhawks are already in a solid position to win the draft lottery as their 11-26-4 record and .317 points percentage both rank dead last in the NHL through exactly 50% of their season. However, dealing Toews and Kane would seemingly only increase their odds of finishing the season in last place while providing them with future assets that would be integral toward a successful reset.
With just 61 points over his last 111 regular-season games since the beginning of last season, Toews is no longer a top-line pivot and perhaps would serve best as a defensive-minded third-line center on a contender while moving the needle in terms of experience and leadership. Kane is in the midst of a down season with just eight goals and 28 points in 38 games but is coming off a 92-point season and sports a measly 5.7% shooting rate that can only rise moving forward. Even as rentals, both players will command a substantial price tag while Blackhawks management can ill afford to miss on potential returns for the former dynamic duo.
As sure-fire deadline sellers with a pair of massive trade chips on the table, plenty of eyes will be on the Blackhawks as we inch toward the March 3 deadline.
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