To this point in the season, much of the hype for the Hart Trophy, as far as the Chicago Blackhawks are concerned has fallen on Patrick Kane. And as he currently resides in the top three in the league in scoring, that type of talk is certainly warranted. But he’s not the only one deserving of some consideration for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
In fact, Jonathan Toews may be right alongside Kane in the awards department when the season comes to an end this summer. His boneheaded fight against Joe Thornton notwithstanding, Toews has been brilliant this year. And that brilliance has spread to more than just the stat sheet.
Toews’ point totals this year are obviously impressive. He’s averaging exactly a point per game, with 15 points in 15 contests this season, including a pair of power play goals. He’s also a plus-10 so far on the year, which is among the best in the league. He’s led a dynamite top line, playing between the likes of Marian Hossa and rookie standout Brandon Saad.
As we all know, however, the impact of Toews’ game goes far beyond the offensive numbers. He’s a contributor in all aspects of the game, providing not only strong offensive play, but exceptional defensive play as well. This year has been no exception. Just look at the faceoff numbers.
Toews has taken the sixth most draws in the league this year. In the 300+ faceoffs he’s taken, he has won 60 percent of them. That’s absolutely absurd. There aren’t very many guys anywhere in the world that can win draws at a clip like that. That’s just one element of the defensive play that makes him one of the league’s top two-way centers, if not the best.
You can mention Toews without mentioning the leadership. It’s clear that this Hawks club has had a shift in their mentality coming into this year, as has been evident by their hot start. That begins with the leadership of a guy like Toews, who is key to their mentality both on and off the ice.
In Sunday’s broadcast against the Los Angeles Kings, multiple analysts noted that there is not a better captain in the league than Jonathan Toews. When you consider all of the factors: offensive play, defensive play, and the intangibles, it’s hard to argue with that. It’s the fact that he is the total package that also makes him a favorite to take home the Hart Trophy this year.
Even if the numbers don’t end up being there for Toews when it is all said and done, he may be more important to his team’s success than any player anywhere else in the league. He’s been fantastic this year, and should continue to be a gamechanger for a team looking to get off to the best start in the history of the NHL.