Return to the NHL for Jonathan Toews: Oilers get bad news
Center Jonathan Toews. David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

In recent developments, the likelihood of the Edmonton Oilers signing Jonathan Toews as a veteran free agent this summer appears to be diminishing. In fact, reports indicate that Toews may not sign with any team at all.

Speculation arose when Duncan Keith, now working as an executive with the Oilers, was reportedly assigned the task of monitoring Toews’ health during the offseason. Unfortunately, the prognosis for his return to the game seems increasingly slim. According to Mark Spector, CAA agency excluded Jonathan Toews from their list of free agents sent to NHL teams prior to July 1. While a final decision has not been made, it currently appears unlikely that Toews will play in the upcoming season.

Kurt Leavins of the Edmonton Journal, echoing similar sentiments, expressed doubts about Toews’ potential return. Leavins mentioned that if Toews were committed and physically fit, he could be a valuable addition to the Oilers. However, reports suggest that Toews is not entertaining any offers, further fueling uncertainty about his future.

The Oilers weren’t the only team keeping tabs on Toews, and the lack of any definitive move as of July 7 indicates that he may not be ready to resume his career. For the Oilers, who are still looking for a depth center who can provide leadership and value at a league-minimum cost (with potential bonuses worked in) the prospect of acquiring a focused, defensively aware and experienced leader was enticing — assuming he was healthy. But, that’s not a given. Toews struggled with the long-term effects of COVID-19 and other elements that have impacted his fitness and performance in recent years. He made a short return at the end of last season but it wasn’t a certainty he’d return for the 2023-24 campaign.

Seeing as his name was reportedly absent from the list of pending free agents released by his agency, it is now rumored that Toews will not participate in the upcoming season. The Oilers will undoubtedly stay in touch, but the future remains uncertain for Toews. It will be intriguing to see if Edmonton moves on and signs someone else (Leavins suggests Tomas Nosek) or if they take the patient approach and wait to ensure that Toews is officially out before going in another direction.

This article first appeared on NHL Trade Talk and was syndicated with permission.

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