In 2003, Jonathan Toews (pronounced “Taves”) was the top selection in the WHL Bantam Draft, taken by the Tri-City Americans. In an unprecedented move for a top CHL draft pick, he opted to go the NCAA route rather than the major junior route, choosing to attend the University of North Dakota.
Prior to his collegiate arrival, Toews played two years at Shattuck-St. Mary’s. In his final season (2004-05) at SSM, Toews amassed 110 points (48 goals, 62 assists) in 64 games. In 2005, he captained Canada’s Team Western to a gold medal at the World U-17 Tournament in Lethbridge, AB as well as earned tournament’s MVP honor.
In 42 appearances with the Fighting Sioux in 2005-2006, and as the youngest player in the NCAA, he registered 39 points (22 goals, 17 assists), which included nine power play goals. He also finished third on the team in plus/minus with a +20. In 2006-07, he raised his production to 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) in just 34 games. He also led Canada to a Gold Medal in the World Junior Championships, highlighted by three consecutive shootout goals in a decisive victory over the United States.
Toews was drafted third overall in the 2006 NHL entry draft by the Blackhawks.
It is hard to point to just one or two qualities that makes Toews such a special player because he is immensely gifted in so many areas. He is instinctive and plays with a tremendous amount of poise, confidence and passion. He thinks and approaches the game like a seasoned veteran and at the same time can exude all of the exuberance of a child playing in his very first hockey game. Like any great player who strives to be the best that he can possibly be, Toews is also the consummate student of the game.
Two aspects about Toews that make him such an effective player is his ability to not only create plays but create space on the ice for his teammates as well. He also makes excellent use of his 6’2/195 lbs. frame and whatever space he has to work with, regardless of which zone he is in. While Toews is still is growing into his body, he possesses good physical strength and uses it to great advantage in his play along the boards, down low and in finishing his checks.
As good as Toews is offensively, he is almost equally as good defensively. His great vision, hockey sense and ability to adapt quickly allow him to play in virtually any type of situation and rarely is he found making the so-called “rookie mistakes”.
Toews is a smooth, powerful skater with good speed. While he may not be the fastest skater, he does utilize his skating ability quite well in driving relentlessly to the net and transitioning from offense to defense and vice versa.
Another attribute that makes Toews such a highly-regarded player is his versatility. While he spent most of his rookie season at North Dakota playing center, he can also play wing. He actually began his collegiate career playing on wing.