Originally posted on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 12/15/11

I think it’s very safe to say that Jonathan Toews is going to be in NHL MVP talks by the end of the season.

The captain of the Chicago Blackhawks has always been loved and praised throughout his five year career, whether it be being nominated for Rookie of the Year back in 2008, Toews becoming (at the age of 20) the third youngest captain in the NHL, or winning a gold medal in the 2010 Olympics — an Olympics in which he also won the award for “Best Forward.”

Toews has never had a “bad year.” Instead he’s only become better as the years go on and on; and this season Toews has really stepped it up. He’s currently second in goals scored this season(18), has garnered 16 assists, and has a +/- rating of 12.

He’s most certainly been one of the major reasons why the Blackhawks sit second in the Western Conference, below only the Minnesota Wild, and he is the reason why the ‘Hawks continue to be one of the most talked about teams in the NHL.

The ‘Hawks have been pretty good so far. They have more depth than last season, though they’re not quite up to par with the Stanley Cup team. They have a great set of goaltenders with Ray Emery, who’s been getting all the starts recently, and Corey Crawford.

But defensive inconsistency still troubles the ‘Hawks. Despite having eight defensemen on the active roster (a considerably high number), the ‘Hawks have yet to find a balance that works without kinks.

The pairing of Nick Leddy and Niklas Hlajlmarsson hasn’t worked, which was proven more in Wednesday’s game against the Wild when the pair had a team-worst +/- rating of -2. Steve Montador has been nothing special, and Sami Lepisto has virtually been non-existent. The “veteran” additions to the defense don’t seem to be working out the way the ‘Hawks intended them too, and it’s been the only lasting stain that continues to last as this ‘Hawks season progresses.

The reason the ‘Hawks have been able to stay atop the Western Conference is because of the consistent production of the core players, especially Toews. Even when he doesn’t find himself on the scoresheet, he still has a major effect on the game via face-off wins, a much overlooked and underrated statistic in hockey.

Toews, though still young, has already become one of Chicago’s most talented and most important athletes. He is THE epitome of what every captain should do for his team.

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