Toews signs 8-year, $84 million deal

The Chicago Blackhawks are keeping their captain for a long time.

Former UND standout Jonathan Toews signed an eight-year, $84 million deal on Wednesday, the richest per-year deal in NHL history.

Toews and dynamic winger Patrick Kane signed identical deals, according to TSN.

The cap hits for Toews and Kane will be $10.5 million, which eclipses that of Alexander Ovechkin’s $9.5 million cap hit, previously the highest.

The six highest-paid UND players — Toews, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Matt Greene, T.J. Oshie and Drew Stafford — have all recently signed deals worth a combined $275 million and have inked career earnings worth about $387 million.

New deal coming for Toews?

Former UND star Jonathan Toews is not a free agent this summer. But the Chicago Blackhawks want to make sure that he doesn’t become one a year from now.

Chicago general manager Stan Bowman says he is negotiating with Pat Brisson, the agent for both Toews and Patrick Kane with hopes of signing both players longterm in the near future.

The big question: How much will Toews and Kane get from the Blackhawks?

They signed identical five-year, $31.5 million deals in 2010 and both are set to expire next season. They will be unrestricted free agents if nothing gets done. But all signs point to something happening.

It wouldn’t be surprising if they both sign identical deals again — something that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter did with the Minnesota Wild.

Speculation is that Toews and Kane could become among the NHL’s highest-paid players ever. But at the same time, they probably don’t want to handcuff the Blackhawks from putting quality players around them.

So, what do you think Toews will get?

NHL Awards set for tonight

The NHL will host its annual awards ceremony tonight in Las Vegas.

Former UND alternate captain Jonathan Toews is a finalist for two of them. Toews is one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy, which goes to the league’s best defensive forward, as well as the Mark Messier Leadership Award, which Mr. Messier selects himself.

Toews won the Selke Trophy last season, joining fellow former UND-forward-turned-No. 19-Blackhawk Troy Murray as the only Sioux players to earn that honor.

Hall of Famer Ed Belfour is the only former UND player to win multiple major awards. Toews hopes to join Belfour tonight.

Selke Trophy finalists

Jonathan Toews, Chicago
Patrice Bergeron, Boston
Anze Kopitar, Kings

NHL.com says: “Toews placed fifth in the NHL in both face-off wins (884) and percentage (57.2%) in taking 1,544 draws, nearly double the total of the next Blackhawks center. He topped all Chicago forwards in average ice time per game (20:28) and ranked second on the club in takeaways (51) and plus-minus (+26), including a cumulative +7 rating against top Conference rivals Anaheim, Colorado, St. Louis and San Jose. A Selke finalist for the third time in four years, the Blackhawks captain is in quest of a repeat win after capturing the award for the first time in 2012-13.”

Mark Messier Leadership Award finalists

Jonathan Toews, Chicago
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim
Dustin Brown, Kings

NHL.com says: “Toews has served as the captain of the Blackhawks since 2008-09, when he was just 20-years-old. While his leadership on the ice is undisputed, his work with various children’s charitable causes also makes him a role model in the community. Among those efforts, Toews volunteers to grant wishes through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, including a special skating session with 4-year-old Nicholas Skretkowski prior to the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Soldier Field. The 25-year-old Winnipeg native is a finalist for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award for the second time after finishing as a runner-up in 2012-13.”

Toews vs. Parise ice time

The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 on Sunday night in Game 5 of their Stanley Cup playoff series as home teams improved to a perfect 5-0 in the series.

It is clear that last line change is a big factor as the Blackhawks are doing their best to get Jonathan Toews on the ice whenever fellow former UND star Zach Parise is out there. Check out the stats.

Parise’s percentage of ice time shadowed by Toews

GAME 1: 53.9 percent
GAME 2: 61.6 percent
GAME 3: 35.8 percent (in Minnesota)
GAME 4: 35.6 percent (in Minnesota)
GAME 5: 57.9 percent

You will notice the significant difference in home games and road games. In Game 1, Chicago did its worst job putting Toews on Parise and that also was Chicago’s worst game at home in the series (got outshot 32-22).

Parise’s shifts

GAME 1: 26 shifts (21 with Toews, 6 without)
GAME 2: 25 shifts (20 with Toews, 5 without)
GAME 3: 23 shifts (15 with Toews, 8 without)
GAME 4: 27 shifts (16 with Toews, 11 without)
GAME 5: 26 shifts (20 with Toews, 5 without)

Parise’s total ice time

GAME 1: 8:13 without Toews, 9:36 with Toews
GAME 2: 7:25 without Toews, 11:53 with Toews
GAME 3: 12:54 without Toews, 7:11 with Toews
GAME 4: 12:41 without Toews, 7:00 with Toews
GAME 5: 8:12 without Toews, 11:16 with Toews

Toews is the reigning Selke Trophy winner as the best defensive forward in the NHL, so it’s probably no huge surprise that Chicago’s coaching staff is trying to make sure he’s on the ice as much as possible for Parise’s shifts.

But it is interesting to look at how much more difficult it has been for the Blackhawks to do that in Minnesota.

Parise’s overall stats

At home: 1-2–3 in 2 games, +1.
On road: 0-1–1 in 3 games, -4.

Game 6 on Tuesday will be at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, so the Wild should be able to get better matchups. If they are able to send it to No. 7, it will be advantage Chicago on the matchups, though.

Parise vs. Toews matchup looms

For the second year in a row, two of UND’s all-time greats will go head-to-head in the NHL playoffs.

Zach Parise and the Minnesota Wild beat Brad Malone and the Colorado Avalanche in Game 7 of their first-round series on Wednesday night, setting up the matchup against Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks.

A year ago, Toews and the Hawks eliminated Parise and the Wild in the first round 4-1. One of the two will be going to the Western Conference finals and they may end up meeting a fellow former Sioux there.

Matt Greene and the Los Angeles Kings rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to eliminate the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday night. Greene, who has been a scratch for the last few games, re-entered the lineup Wednesday.

Toews, Parise and Greene all wear letters for their teams.

The handshake line

Friends and former UND linemates T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Toews went head-to-head in the first round of the NHL playoffs.

The Blackhawks and Toews, who scored three game-winning goals in the series, ended up getting the best of the Blues and Oshie, though Oshie did score in each of the last two games of the series.

After the game, they shared an embrace at center ice.

Toews named Selke finalist

Former UND standout Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks is once again a finalist for the Selke Trophy, which goes to the best defensive forward in the NHL.

Toews won the award last season.

The other finalists are Boston’s Patrice Bergeron, the 2012 winner, and Los Angeles Kings’ forward Anze Kopitar. The winner will be announced at the NHL Awards Ceremony on June 24 in Las Vegas.

The Stanley Cup champion has had one of the three finalists in each of the last four years.

Toews finished the NHL season fifth in both faceoff wins (884) and percentage (57.2) in taking nearly twice as many draws as any other Blackhawks player. Toews topped Hawks forwards in ice time per game (20:28) and finished second in takeaways (51) and plus-minus (+26).

“It’s always an honor to be up for any league-wide award,” Toews said. “You always owe a lot to our team when you get recognition. I have to give a lot of credit to the linemates I play with. I’m just out there benefiting from guys like that.”