Monday, June 6, 2011

All In the Family: The "Other" Toews

Jonathan Toews has already made his mark on the NHL, having captained his Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship at age 22, picking up a Conn Smythe while he was at it. 

He's been a hit ever since he was drafted, plain and simple. 

As for Jonathan's younger brother David (wait, who?), he's been a relative anonymous since he was drafted. The Islanders snapped him up with the 66th pick, in the third round of the 2008 Entry Draft.

Look at his Wikipedia page, and you're not likely to walk away impressed.

"He is best known for being the brother of Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews."

Ask those who have coached him, and you might actually learn a thing or two about him. 

David's high school coach, Tom Ward, essentially equated the two brothers, stating that they're "equal in hockey ability" and that David "plays the game and thinks the game" like Jonathan. He also says that David "has the same intensity and leadership skills."

His pre-draft scouting report reads as follows:

NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee
“Has a good shot with a quick release - moves the puck and sees the ice very well.  A good skater, uses his speed to create scoring chances for himself and his linemates - has excellent hands.”

Toews played two seasons at the University of North Dakota, never amassing more than 15 points in a single year. In 2010-2011, he decided to make the switch to the WHL, with the Brandon Wheat Kings. If point production is any indicator, Toews' decision was a fine one. 

In 60 games with Brandon, David notched 48 points (20G, 28A) and rattled off seven points (2G, 5A) in six playoff matches. 

His numbers aren't jaw-dropping, but consider the context in which he racked up those 48 points. This was, no doubt, a difficult transition for Toews. College hockey and Canadian Junior hockey are two different worlds. 

The talent level in the NCAA isn't as high, so when you're struggling to hit the 20-point mark in college, the last thing you'd expect is for a player to triple his totals (Toews went from 15 to 48 points) when he switches over to Junior hockey. 

Also, the Junior game better resembles an NHL style, and, coming from college, you need to adjust and change the way you think and play the game. You need to be far better, from a positional standpoint, in the WHL than you do at the University of North Dakota. 

Toews made the transition, and though it wasn't seamless, he put it all together as the season went on. 

In the first couple of months of the 2010-2011 season, Toews was averaging 3-5 points per-month. He then notched seven in December, six in January, 13 in February and nine in March. David gained more confidence with each passing game, the culmination of this reality coming in the WHL playoffs, where his point totals exceeded games-played (seven points in six games). 

In David Toews, the Isles have a strong hockey player in the wings, one who's been slightly overlooked, largely due to the influx of high-tier prospects like Calvin de Haan, Nino Niederreiter, Kirill Kabanov and Kirill Petrov, to name a few.

He's probably a few years away from making an impact in the NHL, but I do believe, somewhere down the road, Toews will be an important part of this Islander team. 

Where and how he fits in, that will be determined by other factors, such as team depth, style of play and how he performs in training camp.

David Toews will get his chance, one way or another. 

Comments are welcome.


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