Blackhawks' Toews motivated by missing cut in NHL's Top 20 centers list

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • According to NHL Network, the Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews is not one of the top 20 center in the league. That fact shocked Toews, but he might just use it as further motivation to prove last season was no fluke.

    According to NHL Network, the Chicago Blackhawks' Jonathan Toews is not one of the top 20 center in the league. That fact shocked Toews, but he might just use it as further motivation to prove last season was no fluke. Associated Press File Photo/April 3, 2019

 
 
Updated 9/15/2019 7:51 PM

Jonathan Toews set career highs in goals (35), assists (46) and points last season (81).

He also averaged a career-high 21 minutes of ice time, won 56.3% of his faceoffs and centered the Blackhawks' top line each and every night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Yet, when NHL Network unveiled what it believes to be the league's top 20 centers, Toews failed to make the cut.

Asked if he will use the omission as motivation, the Hawks' captain said: "Honestly, kind of. Yeah. If I saw my name at the top of the list, I wouldn't really key on it too much. But the fact that it's been a few years since our team's had playoff success, you kind of start losing a little bit of focus and attention (nationally).

"There's no doubt in the back of your mind you want to prove yourself as one of the best players in the league and on the team. So when you see that, it definitely sinks in a little bit for sure."

The list begins with some of the biggest names in the league in Edmonton's Connor McDavid, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon, Florida's Aleksander Barkov, and Toronto's John Tavares and Auston Matthews.

But doesn't Toews belong somewhere in the top 20?

After all, the three-time Stanley Cup winner had 8 more goals that Buffalo's Jack Eichel (No. 15) and is more well-rounded than second-year player Elias Pettersson (No. 20). Toews also scored 14 more times than Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was at No. 16 and won just 38.7% of his draws.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Kris Versteeg, a veteran of 643 NHL games who has won two Stanley Cups with Toews, was smiling the entire time he talked about this snub.

"He (had) been ranked as a top-3 centerman (in the past), and now he gets 81 points and he's not ranked in the top 20. So people are looking at points," said Versteeg, who then rattled off the five key attributes to any good center: "A guy that can play penalty kill, power play, 6-on-5 situations (on) offense and defense, and go against top lines.

"Jonathan Toews can do all of that and half the centermen in that list can't. (They) can only play offensive zone. …

"It's a bit of a smack to him and I expect him to take it in stride and try to prove some people wrong."

Toews was the first player mentioned in NHL Network's "bubble players" who just missed the cut. Considering Toews averaged just 23 goals and 56 points the previous three seasons, perhaps those who put the list together thought his 2018-19 campaign was a fluke.

The 31-year-old is out to prove that's not the case.

"I know there's another level I can get to towards being that really effective top-of-the-league, two-way guy again," Toews said. "And I think if I'm playing that way and setting that example the right way, it's only going to make our team better.

"That's kind of my focus right now."

• Twitter: @johndietzdh

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.