Aside from drafting their next franchise center at the end of the month, the biggest storyline in the Chicago Blackhawks’ offseason is what the future holds for his predecessor, captain Jonathan Toews. A return to the Blackhawks has seemed very unlikely for some time, given how the end of the season went. Still, speculation around a return, given the impending entrance of Connor Bedard, has been a topic of discussion.
According to The Athletic’s Scott Powers, Toews is expected to be announced in the coming weeks to announce a decision regarding retirement or a potential move to another team in free agency. Toews, 35, took a leave of absence prior to the 2020-2021 season due to Chronic Immune Response Syndrome, which, along with some effects of long COVID, caused him to miss a stretch of games near the end of 2022-23 as well.
Should Toews choose to hang up his skates, it would mark the end of a notable career that includes three Stanley Cup championships and numerous accolades but a debatable reputation as a captain stemming from the sexual assault scandal that occurred during the team’s 2010 championship run. After completing his eight-year, $84MM contract extension signed in 2014, Toews will surely generate some interest from teams looking to fill out their middle six if he does decide to try and extend his career.
More from Powers on the Blackhawks this morning:
- In regards to their second first-round pick in the upcoming draft, 19th overall, the Blackhawks have a handful of players they’re hoping will still be available to them – and they’re likely to select a second forward to supplement Bedard. Among the prospects at the scouting combine, forwards Colby Barlow, Oliver Moore, Calum Ritchie, Matthew Wood, and Brayden Yager are potential options for the Blackhawks. Additionally, the team has shown interest in 6-foot-5 Russian forward Daniil But, and general manager Kyle Davidson expressed a lack of hesitancy to Powers around selecting Russian players in this year’s draft. Looking ahead to the team’s four second-round picks, goaltender Adam Gajan, forwards Otto Stenberg and Bradly Nadeau, as well as defensemen Oliver Bonk and Andrew Strathmann are potential considerations for the Blackhawks.
- The Chicago Blackhawks have made their decision regarding pending unrestricted free agents, says Powers, signaling that after re-signing Andreas Athanasiou, the team is unlikely to bring back any of their other UFAs. Players such as Jujhar Khaira and Alex Stalock, among a few others, will explore options elsewhere as the Blackhawks prioritize their roster composition to provide opportunities for younger players and build out some higher-end support for Bedard via free agency.
- Davidson also indicated to Powers that Arvid Soderblöm and Petr Mrazek are expected to form the team’s NHL goaltending tandem for the upcoming season. Speaking about the young goalies, Davidson emphasized Soderblöm’s potential and the development aspect of their decision-making process so as to not rush their other prospects. Soderblöm, who has already spent time as a North American pro (and played pro in Europe), holds an experience advantage over other prospects like Jaxson Stauber and Drew Commesso.