Jonathan Toews isn’t underrated. The two-time Stanley Cup-winning captain gets plenty of praise, both in and out of the Windy City. But in the absence of Patrick Kane, the 26-year-old center is proving yet again just how valuable he truly is to the Blackhawks – as if we didn’t already know.
Comparing the 2006 Draft Class
Although the Blackhawks hit the jackpot with Toews in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, there was plenty of talent to choose from. The Pittsburgh Penguins may have served up a gaffe by selecting Jordan Staal second overall, but even he aided the Pens in bringing the Steel City a Stanley Cup in 2009.
While Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom leads the draft class with 566 points in 568 games, the group now boasts three different 500-point scorers as of last Monday. Toews’ assist in Chicago’s 3-1 win over Carolina was number 282 of his career, which thrusted the former Selke Trophy winner to the 500 point threshold in his eighth season.
Toews, who was drafted third overall in the 2006 NHL Draft, is considered by many to be one of the best leaders in hockey today. From his shootout heroics at the World Juniors in 2007 to winning two Olympic gold medals to being the captain of two Stanley Cup winners, he shines in the spotlight. When the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010 for the first time in almost 50 years, it was Toews who took home the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. — TSN Staff
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Statistically speaking, a number of the draft class’ members make concrete arguments for being considered the best. Backstrom leads the field in overall points, while Toronto’s Phil Kessel has gone onto score the most goals. Even Claude Giroux, a steal at 22, leads the NHL in points since 2011 with 370.
When it comes to Toews, however, it’s the former Conn Smyth-winner’s all around game, as well as his intangibles, that sets him apart.
“He’s been recognized more for his defensive side, his leadership side, things like that,” defenseman Brent Seabrook told Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times. “But he leads us offensively, too. We jump on his back every night.”
While Toews has blossomed in every phase of the game, including two-way skill and leadership, just how well does the Blackhawks captain matchup against the group’s top scorers from an analytical perspective?
- First in even-strength points (305)
- First in shorthanded points (21)
- First in game-winning goals (Tied with Phil Kessel – 40)
- First in five-on-five primary assists (108)
- First in five-on-five SAT percentage (56.95 percent)
- First in five-on-five relative shots for percentage (3.65 percent)
- First in relative scoring chances for percentage (4.92 percent)
- First in faceoff winning percentage (55.27 percent)
- First in even-strength time on ice competition percentage (18.03 percent)
- First in Penalty Differential (plus-65)
(*Stats compiled through Mar. 24, 2015.)
Although Toews has enjoyed the luxury of being surrounded with a terrific cast – tied with Backstrom for overall quality of teammates at 18.92 percent – the two-time Stanley Cup winner has thrived ahead of the rest.
The numbers above are quite telling. Especially since they’re far from padded.
Despite a 343 point differential between Toews and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, the clutch play of Chicago’s Captain Serious has resulted in some considering him to be the best player in the league. And while the debate/discussion between the two isn’t likely to be going anywhere anytime soon, Toews’ has earned every bit of his praise.
Unlike Toews, Crosby’s dominance increases on the power play. In the past three seasons, Crosby has 75 points on the power play, ranking fourth in the NHL. Going further back, Crosby has 309 power-play points since coming into the league, trailing only Alex Ovechkin by 20 points in 124 fewer games. His offense-heavy approach with reliance on the power play is a stark contrast to Toews’ controlling play in 5-on-5 ice time. — ESPN Stats & Info
Crosby seems to only grow a stache. Toews grows everything but the stache. What does it all mean?
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) April 27, 2014
Although the comparisons between the two captains are engaging, Toews’ knack for crunch time isn’t lifted by it. Despite acquiring a reputation for fading in the playoffs, Crosby’s 114 career playoff points are 33 more than Toews’ 81, in only one additional game to boot.
On the other hand, Chicago’s captain has developed the stature of a playoff hero, and rightfully so, notching four of his 10 career game-winning goals in the post-season last year.
“He’s special,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said last year to NHL.com’s Shawn Roarke. “I think his work ethic is contagious. We’ve got to make sure we all look to play as hard as he does.”
Through 73 games this season, Toews ranks second in team points with 60, while sitting eight points shy of matching the 68 points he produced from a season ago. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native has reached 20 or more goals in all eight of his NHL seasons, and has now scored 40 game-winning goals, good enough for third in franchise history.
Only two players have scored more game-winning goals in the Indian head than Toews (40): Steve Larmer (49) and Denis Savard (46). Chicago’s captain has scored 81 points in 91 career postseason games, and his 10 career postseason game-winning goals is the benchmark in franchise history. — Tab Bamford, Committed Indians
Even with Patrick Kane out of the lineup since Feb. 24, Toews has picked up his scoring, notching five goals and six assists, while leading the Hawks to an 8-2-1 record. That’s not really out of the ordinary, considering Toews’ 117 career points in 132 games in the months of March and April combined.
“I’ve been looking to score more all season,” said Toews via Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune. “With Kaner gone that definitely adds to it, but even if he was in the lineup I’d still be looking for more production out of myself. In that regard it hasn’t been an easy year.
“I’ve been talking about looking for a breakout all season. At this point, the games are just getting tough, so you have to go out there and fight for every bounce and every scoring chance you get.”
Yes, we know. Jonathan Toews is great. He says the right things, while adding to his trophy collection on an annual basis. The even-keeled captain is widely documented, but it’s justified.
Point totals be damned, Toews is the King of the 2006 draft.