At 15-18-6, the Blackhawks are in NHL Purgatory. They’re not quite bad enough to have a shot at the best odds in the NHL Draft Lottery, and they’re not quite good enough to be contending for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They started the season in the cellar of the NHL (1-9-2) before firing Jeremy Colliton. And while they’ve drastically improved their position under interim head coach Derek King (14-9-4), playing at a .593 point-percentage pace doesn’t get you out of the basement. Not after a start like that.
So then, we turn our attention to the NHL Trade Deadline — coming up fast on March 21 — as the Blackhawks have a handful of trade pieces that could/should be moved by then. Two names that are reportedly not a part of those discussions, however, are Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
In his latest feature on The Athletic, Mark Lazerus reports that the Blackhawks are not considering trading either of their star forwards at this time:
Well, if it does happen, it’ll have to be initiated by Kane and Toews themselves. Kane is still an elite player, Toews has been excellent of late and is starting to look like his old self again, and according to multiple team sources, the Blackhawks have no intention of asking them to waive their no-movement clauses in the coming months. That doesn’t mean both will get shiny new extensions when they become eligible for them this summer, but the Blackhawks aren’t actively looking to move them.
“If one of them came to us and said he wanted out, we’d certainly have to respect that and look into the possibility,” one source said. “I don’t think anybody wants it to come to that,” another source said.
We’ve seen Chicago do this recently with trading Duncan Keith after he decided to play some of his final years in the NHL closer to home, eventually landing with the Edmonton Oilers.
Kane and Toews signed identical eight-year, $84M contract extensions that kicked-in following the 2015 Stanley Cup. Since then, Kane has lived up to his $10.5M AAV Cap hit, winning the Hart Trophy in 2016 and leading the Blackhawks in scoring every season of the deal. This year, once again, Kane is leading the Blackhawks with 35 points in 35 games.
For Toews, his cap hit looks much worse at this point in time than Kane’s does. Toews has topped the 60-point plateau in scoring just twice since his extension, having his career-best year in 2018-19 (35 goals, 81 points) and following it up with 60 points in 70 games during the 2019-20 season, which was cut-short by the pandemic. After missing all of the 2020-21 season, through no fault of his own, Toews has come back to the Blackhawks this season as a shell of his former self. His production has improved recently, scoring four goals and nine points since December 9, and his play away from the puck has been what you’d expect from him.
Both of them have full control of their futures, with both of their current deals coming with full no-movement clauses. If the Blackhawks were to go full nuclear and trade everything and everyone to begin a proper rebuild, both Kane and Toews would need to waive their trade protections.
If we’re being brutally honest, that is the direction needed for the team. The statues for both players are likely already commissioned and the spots for them in-or-around the United Center have probably already been selected. No. 19 and No. 88 are headed to the rafters as well. Their legacies in Chicago are cemented, but what would likely be best for them to win in the later stages of their careers and to help the future of the Blackhawks, would be to get as much for them in trade packages as you could — assuming, of course, that’s what they want (being a player-first organization is also critically important).
Finding a dance partner for either player’s contract would be difficult, especially for Toews and especially this season. Their cap hits are massive, even if Kane is still worth it. While it’s unlikely to happen this season, if there is more of the same cellar-dwelling next season in Chicago, it’s absolutely probable that both players could be moved out.