What exactly is going on with Jonathan Toews?
The 33-year-old captain, three-time Stanley Cup champion and one of the NHL’s most renowned leaders, missed the entire season after announcing in December that he was battling an unspecified medical issue that left him feeling “exhausted and exhausted.” lethargic. “
Since Toews’ announcement, there has been no substantial update from the team on their status or plans. Toews recorded a video congratulating longtime teammate Patrick Kane on his 1,000th game in March, but he has not been seen at any of the team’s facilities all year.
The next step for Toews is perhaps the most pressing issue for a team that has taken small steps forward this year.
“I miss him in a lot of ways,” Kane said Tuesday. “Off the ice obviously he’s a great leader, a great friend. You just miss it in that sense. And then on the ice, for me, I think it makes things a lot easier too.
“You expect him to come back next year. Hope he’s back. He is obviously an integral part of the team and the organization. “
Playing without Toews, Chicago missed the playoffs for the third time in four years. But he remained in contention for much of the year, boosted by solid contributions from some of the youngest players on the squad.
The Blackhawks have scored 42 goals, an NHL-high, by rookies. Alex DeBrincat, 23, improved his game in his fourth season, finishing third in the league with 32 goals. Wyatt Kalynuk, 23, and Adam Boqvist, 20, were among a group of young defenders who have had some encouraging times.
“I think at the start of the year there could have been a few guys who were maybe at the edge of even making the squad, I think, and they really stepped up and became great players. for us, ”DeBrincat said. “It’s great to see that.”
THE PENALTY OF WATCHING
Kane finished with 15 goals and 51 assists, tied with Edmonton star Leon Draisaitl for second in the NHL. But the dynamic winger has only scored four times in his last 33 games, and he said on Tuesday he has suffered from an injury since the end of last season.
“I’m not going to tell you exactly what it is, but just, like I said before, it’s just something that I kind of dealt with maybe on the verge of getting back into the bubble.” last year, ”he said. “I feel like we did a lot of good things to make it feel good in games and then in other games it didn’t feel so good.”
The goal was one of Chicago’s biggest issues heading into the season, but Kevin Lankinen turned into a pleasant surprise and Malcolm Subban had his moments as well. Collin Delia finished strong after a difficult start. All three goalkeepers are under contract for next year.
Lankinen, 26, was 17-14-5 with a 3.01 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. He passed out late in his first NHL season, and the Blackhawks may be looking to add a more established goaltender to team up with him next year.
“I think Lanks, once again, has also had a successful year in terms of the starting point and the result,” said coach Jeremy Colliton. “But it should be just a stepping stone. At least that’s how I hope he looks at it. He has to do whatever he can to keep improving.
AH, MAKE DECISIONS
The Blackhawks have a pair of intriguing decisions to make with 24-year-old forwards Pius Suter and Dylan Strome.
Suter is eligible for restricted free agency after recording 14 goals and 13 assists in 55 games during his rookie season.
Strome is under contract for next year, but he’s only registered nine goals and eight assists in 40 games this season. The No.3 pick in the 2015 draft was a good scratch for four of the team’s last 10 games.
“It wasn’t a great year, but there are things to build on and I also learned a lot about myself,” said Strome.