Report: Blackhawks Preparing for This to Be Kane, Toews’ Finale

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REPORT: Blackhawks Preparing for This to Be Kane and Toews’ Final Season

Chicago Blackhawks

Since the Blackhawks started their more impactful rebuild last season under the direction of general manager Kyle Davidson, the topic du jour in Chicago — indeed, the NHL — has been what the future will hold for the two icons left on the roster: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

We’re now five weeks away from the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, which means the clock is ticking on both of them to decide if they want to play out the rest of this season on their current contracts or chase a championship somewhere else. And then they’ll both hit unrestricted free agency for the first time this coming summer.

If either of them leaves, it opens a leadership void on the roster. Other players wear an “A” on their jerseys now, but Toews is the longest-tenured captain in the history of the franchise. And he’s been one of the more respected captains in the league.

Kane is chasing history in Chicago, and has an “A” on his chest because he’s been the most dynamic offensive player this city has seen since Jeremy Roenick left almost 20 years ago.

Together, they have been a revelation. Together, the time is coming for both of them to make a decision.

And the organization to make its decision(s) as well.

The focus of this season turned to the 2023 NHL Draft the moment Alex DeBrincat was traded to Ottawa. We’ve been talking about the top prospects in this summer’s draft since September, and fans are already getting excited at the prospect of an elite player joining the organization. But, for now, all we can do is hope the lottery balls do the Blackhawks a favor when the time comes in April.

Which complicates the decision making the organization will embark on in the coming days.

In his mailbag on Wednesday, Scott Powers at The Athletic wrote the following in response to a question about Toews and/or Kane being traded and then re-signing with the Blackhawks this coming summer:

I don’t think anything like this is in the cards right now. As of today, the Blackhawks are preparing for this to be Kane and Toews’ last season with the organization. If Kane and/or Toews expressed a desire to re-sign, that would change things, but I don’t think the Blackhawks are coming to them with contracts or any scenarios to return. Honestly, I don’t think the Blackhawks’ rebuild can accelerate quickly enough where Kane and Toews are guaranteed another shot at a Cup. Anyway, we should know more about their futures in the coming weeks.

There are a couple pieces to this that we need to unpack.

First, “I don’t think the Blackhawks’ rebuild can accelerate quickly enough where Kane and Toews are guaranteed another shot at a Cup.” I don’t think either of them is going to get anywhere close to the $10.5 million AAV they’re currently carrying on their next deals. Kane likely has a higher open-market value than Toews at this stage in their careers, but the Blackhawks’ cap situation in the next few years certainly doesn’t eliminate them from making either an offer.

As Powers wrote in early-January, the Blackhawks will need to spend a lot of money in the next couple years just to get to the salary floor. And, with the expected increase in the cap coming in the next year or two, that number could increase.

Yes, there are some big-ticket free agents coming (possibly including Dylan Larkin, Auston Matthews and William Nylander) but none of them is guaranteed to sign with the Blackhawks — even with a massive offer (read: Brian Campbell-like in context).

The second comment from Powers we need to consider is: “If Kane and/or Toews expressed a desire to re-sign, that would change things.” Nobody has eliminated that from being a possibility whenever the conversation(s) take place between the two stars, their shared agent Pat Brisson, and the Blackhawks’ front office.

Both has expressed that they love Chicago. Hell, they’ve spent almost half of their lives in this city at this point, and it’s the only NHL jersey either has ever worn. If Toews talks to someone like Ryan Getzlaf about the significant of going out on his terms with only one jersey in his closet, that could impact his mindset about staying. And Kane has started a family in Chicago.

Those are important considerations.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab