On Thursday, Elliotte Friedman joined host Matt Marchese on “The Jeff Marek Show” on SportsNet. As usual, they touched on a wide range of topics, including the futures of Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. A future that could soon come to an end, one way or another.
“Both Kane and Toews never thought the day would come that they would leave Chicago,” Friedman said. “I think the two of those guys have really had a difficult time wrapping their heads around that.”
Among the driving factors here (in terms of their openness to a trade) is whether or not the organization wants to bring these guys back after this year. Indeed, Friedman isn’t really clear on whether or not the organization wants a fresh start. “Maybe the Blackhawks want to move on.”
The biggest variable in any trade talk with Toews (or Kane, but we’ll focus on Toews for now) remains them coming to the decision to accept the idea of leaving/wanting to leave. And there are no guarantees either will ask/want out. But if the Blackhawks are going to move on from Toews before the end of the season — i.e. the trade deadline — what might that look like? We now have an idea.
The Jonathan Toews Price Tag
Friedman believes a couple other forwards, Timo Meier (San Jose) and Bo Horvat (Vancouver), will set the market before the trade deadline, with Meier likely the first to move/set the market. But with that in mind, here’s what Friedman thinks about the market (i.e. asking price) for Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews:
“I think they’re looking at a second or third-round pick, probably. That’s what a couple teams told me… that’s what they think [the cost would be to acquire Toews].”
The unknown(s) in this scenario is where Toews would accept a trade (one team? a short list of 2-5 teams?) and if it would require a third team to pick up some of the cap hit to make it work. But a third rounder feels awfully light for the league’s leading faceoff man.
In my mind, an appropriate scenario for a Toews deal would be similar to how the Blackhawks’ trade for defenseman Kimmo Timonen worked in 2015.
In that deal, Chicago traded a second-round pick in 2015 and a conditional pick in 2016 to Philadelphia for the 39-year-old defenseman (who, at the time of the trade, had not played that season because of blood clot issues). The conditional pick started as a fourth rounder. If Timonen played in 50 percent of the game and Chicago won two series, it moved up to a third; if Chicago won three series and he appeared in half of the games it became a second.
Long story short: Timonen finally got his name engraved on the Stanley Cup in 2015 and it cost the Blackhawks two second round picks.
If the Blackhawks can find one team with the cap space to make a two-team deal, I would think the Blackhawks could target pick(s) with conditions based on how deep that team goes in the playoffs to improve the pick position. Timonen was a pure rental; Toews may be as well (though re-signing him could be another condition that improves the return).
Friedman throws out some of the usual suspects as potential fits for Toews: Edmonton, Colorado, Winnipeg. But their feelings on the cost to acquire a top-six center and leader are still TBD at the moment, and Friedman indicated that either Chicago forward would likely be a second tier consideration because of the off-ice factors and their relationship on the Blackhawks organization.
They’re not the only potentially interested parties, however.
Earlier this week, the crew at TSN discussed a number of trade deadline related topics on their Insider Trading segment. One note of interest: the Carolina Hurricanes have reportedly had preliminary discussions with the Canucks about center Horvat. What that tells us is Carolina, who are positioned to potentially do some damage this season, are looking to bolster their center ice position.
Earlier this week, Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Ops Jim Rutherford indicated the team has an offer on the table for Horvat, but it isn’t at the level they’re willing to accept. If we read between the lines, this might indicate the Canes are the team with the offer on the table.
If the price tag is too high on Horvat (which is reportedly the case), would they consider making a play for Toews? Or, perhaps more likely, would they have a long conversation about a reunion with Max Domi?
Domi was traded to Carolina at the deadline last year and did a nice job for the Canes. But this season he’s shown that he can play well and win 55 percent of his faceoffs, making him a familiar player to the room and, now, a viable top-six center option for them.
For what it’s worth, Carolina has their own first and second round picks and the Flyers’ third-round selection in the 2023 NHL Draft. They also have two picks in the second round (their own and Philly’s) in 2024.