We already knew that Devon Toews belonged with the New York Islanders at the NHL level. But on February 2nd, he showed us he could be something special.
After an injury kept him off the ice for most of the 2017-18 season and then being cut from the 2018-19 training camp it felt like Toews would never get to the NHL. But when Thomas Hickey was forced out of the lineup with an injury and with Toews putting up 19 points in 24 AHL games, he was the clear choice to replace the veteran.
Toews took that opportunity and made the best of it. He proved that he was invaluable to the Islanders by not only being good in his own zone but being able to generate some offense as well.
But we already knew he could do all of that before he even stepped foot in the NHL. But on February 2nd Deon Toews made us all say: “wow”.
Down and Up
At the surface, the play in question isn’t too special. Toews doesn’t score and he doesn’t get a point. But what he does in a single play is show off his speed, his soft hands, and hockey IQ.
Again, we knew he could play. We knew he could defend and we knew he could score. But in a single play, we saw just how well Devon Toews sees the game. And it got us all excited for the future.
Toews takes the puck from his d-zone with back pressure. He then skates up the neutral zone with the puck (he’s now totally evaded the back pressure). Toews easily skates around the other team’s center at the center circle and into the O-zone. Heading into the offensive zone he’s about to split the D but decides to get a shot on the net instead.
Johnathan Quick is caught by surprise but manages to parry the puck away. Toews follows up on the play as the puck falls back in his path and he gets another good look at goal. If not for a poke-check from Quick he would have scored.
It’s such an incredibly smart play to make. Toews sees that he has an opening through the neutral zone and takes it. Most defenders would have seen the defender at center ice and looked for a winger to pass the puck to. Toews knows he can get around him, and does. Almost like the defender wasn’t there at all.
Within seconds, Toews sees a low-risk/high-reward situation unfold and is almost able to take advantage of it. Oh and he’s a rookie in the NHL.
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Again, he didn’t score or even get a point on the play. But what this play showed is Devon Toews has skills to not only play at the NHL but to excel at the NHL. And this was only year one.