Under Pressure: Jonathan Toews


This post is part of Blackhawks Day on PHT…

In the two years after Brandon Saad was traded to Columbus, Jonathan Toews went through a whole host of left wingers and never really found consistent chemistry with any of them.

So on June 23, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman went out and got Saad back.

The cost was significant, with Chicago sending Artemi Panarin to the Blue Jackets. But in order to get Toews back on track offensively, Bowman felt the deal had to be made.

“There’s no doubt they had tremendous chemistry,” Bowman said of Toews and Saad, per the Chicago Tribune. “When Brandon first came in as a rookie he found a home there on Jonathan’s left wing. … It’s comfortable knowing he had great success with Jonathan, and if they go back to that it’s great.”

Now, the flip side of that is Patrick Kane‘s chemistry with Panarin. Those two were terrific together, along with center Artem Anisimov, and now Kane will have to make do with somebody else on his line.

“I’d be lying to you if I was sitting up here saying I wasn’t disappointed when it first went down, no doubt about it,” Kane said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “Artemi’s a great kid, someone I got along with really well off the ice and had that chemistry with on the ice. It was just fun to play with him every night. I’ll miss him, for sure.”

So put yourself in Toews’ shoes. The first two years of your massive contract extension, you didn’t produce enough and your team didn’t get out of the first round. Not only that, your GM was so worried about your production that he traded one of the NHL’s most dynamic players to get your old linemate back.

Toews already went into last season putting pressure on himself to score more — and he ended up with just 21 goals, the fewest of his NHL career.

But at least he had a decent excuse, given the lack of quality on his left wing.

That excuse is gone now.

Related: Will the ‘Hawks regret trading Panarin?