Just like the rest of the league, the Chicago Blackhawks are in the midst of February hockey and trade deadline frenzy. A few big transactions have already been made, and many more will filter in as the month moves along and the Mar. 3 trade deadline approaches.
For some, this is such an exciting time of the year. For others (myself included), we just want the drama to be over so we can focus on hockey games again. But of course, if you cover any NHL team, you can’t ignore all the trade rumors. In that vein, today Brooke LoFurno and myself tackle some trade speculation regarding two of the Blackhawks’ biggest trade chips, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.
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We learned this past Thursday that St. Louis Blues’ Vladimir Tarasenko went to the New York Rangers in a blockbuster trade. New York was once considered the most likely destination for Kane if he chose to waive his no-movement clause. With this deal being made, there are a lot less options for a Kane trade.
Kane himself expressed that the Rangers was definitely a team he was intrigued by. Which leads to my first trade topic question. Would you be disappointed if Kane stays with the Blackhawks and ultimately re-signs with them in the offseason?
Implications if Kane Stays
I am leaning more towards being disappointed if Kane stays with the Blackhawks. I love Kane as a player and he will always be one of my favorite Blackhawks of all time, but it makes sense for both sides to move on. It would be nice to see Kane get a fourth ring and allow the Blackhawks to get assets to improve their future.
Now, if he ultimately gets traded, but then decides to come back in the summer, I would like that scenario. But for right now, the team is long overdue for assets from him as they have been stuck at the bottom for far too long. Keeping him wouldn’t change that fact.
Kane seems to be dragging his feet a little bit about providing the Blackhawks with a list of teams he’d be willing to be traded to. This leads me to believe he’s having second thoughts about leaving. His legacy in Chicago is important to him. With the positive culture head coach Luke Richardson has brought to the team, I could see Kane wanting to stick it out with the Blackhawks.
There’s also his hip issue to think about. Like the Rangers were, other teams might be leery of Kane’s long-term health. This could also make it harder for a deal to be made; and the return wouldn’t be as good either.
If Kane does decide not to waive his NMC clause, general manager Kyle Davidson won’t want to be the one that lost him for nothing in free agency. It would behoove him to keep this talent in the fold. I personally wouldn’t be disappointed to see Kane usher in the new era of young Blackhawks, and be the veteran presence to mentor them. The team has plenty of money to work with, so they could easily make a deal with Kane that might be his market value elsewhere.
I also don’t necessarily see this hampering the rebuild. If anything, it could speed it up. Then when Kane is ready, he can retire a Blackhawk. Who knows what is going on behind closed doors, but I could definitely see this as a viable option.
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On the other side of the coin, Kane could still decide to give the Blackhawks a list of teams he’d be willing to be traded to. Do you have any hunches as to how that might play out, and what the return for him could be?
Kane Trade Options
It seems like speculation for returns for Kane revolve around a first-round pick, prospects, and a player. If I had to guess, I would assume a first-round pick and a young, up-and-coming player would be the hallmark of a trade package for him, and I think the New Jersey Devils or Dallas Stars would be a good fit for him.
Our very own Jim Parsons put out a report recently that the Edmonton Oilers and the Blackhawks might be working on a deal involving Kane. While this is intriguing, I have a hard time believing Kane would want to go a Canadian team. Although, playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl could be a pretty compelling argument to change his mind.
The Athletic recently outlined numerous organizations who might be interested in Kane. (from ‘Blackhawks trade tracker: Patrick Kane ‘not like the happiest’ after Rangers deal’, TheAthleticCHI – 2/10/23). For some reason I could see him ending up with a dynamic team like the Carolina Hurricanes, and being reunited with former teammate Teuvo Teravainen.
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Kane has been a face of the Blackhawks’ franchise for a long time. But so has Toews. We should address trade rumors for Toews as well.
It’s unfortunate that Toews has not been able to practice lately, which definitely puts a damper on trade speculation. All accounts say the captain just has the flu and will be available after this weekend. So, same question for Toews as we have for Kane. Would you be disappointed if Toews stays with the Blackhawks and ultimately re-signs with them in the offseason?
Implications if Toews Stays
I won’t be disappointed if Toews doesn’t get traded only because the return for him at this point seems iffy because of his decline in play and health. I think he will still garner plenty of interest as he is one of the best faceoff players in the league at the moment, but if teams aren’t willing to give up much for Toews, the Blackhawks may as well just keep him.
Kane is the true key to the whole trade return scenario and is the more important trade chip. Either way, I don’t see Toews returning to the team. He has made subtle hints that he wants to win and seemed more open to the idea of moving on being the best for both sides.
Unlike Kane, I’m not so sure when it comes to Toews. I think I would be disappointed if Toews stayed. This is a guy who’s taking two weeks to get over the flu. Now in all fairness, we don’t know the whole situation. We can only speculate on what we’re being told. But Toews’ health definitely seems to be an issue. His body has gone through some major wear and tear. It might just be telling him that he’s just about done.
Also, have you noticed that the Blackhawks’ faceoff numbers are still high even without their captain? Their record has been pretty good while he’s been out also. I’m just not sure how valuable Toews really is to the Blackhawks anymore. I guess we’ll know more in the coming days whether this really was just a bad bout of the flu. But I could honestly see Toews retiring at the end of the season.
Finally, Toews could also give the Blackhawks a list of teams he’d be willing to be traded to. What are your thoughts on where he might end up, and the return for the captain?
Toews Trade Options
If Toews does decide he wants a trade, I know Davidson would make it work for his sake, even if the return is not as good as expected. So, I am not expecting a haul for Toews.
My hunch would be a second or third round draft in the 2023 NHL draft and a prospect. I can see Toews going to the Colorado Avalanche or the Boston Bruins, as those two teams have been linked to him for a while.
While I mentioned above that Toews might not be the best fit for the rebuilding Blackhawks, if he’s healthy I definitely think he would be incredibly valuable to a contending team. Toews would likely be a third line center on another team, and a really good one at that. My gut tells me if he decides to waive his NMC, he’ll end up with the Avalanche. And it will be really fun to watch them compete in the playoffs. Wouldn’t it be something to see Toews raise the Stanley Cup one last time before he hangs up his skates?
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It’s all just speculation for now. But it certainly is intriguing to contemplate all the scenarios surrounding the Blackhawks’ two superstars, Kane and Toews. The trade deadline is only 20 days away, and we should know more in the coming days and weeks about the fates of these two players, and the eventual fate of the Blackhawks.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.