Blackhawks president John McDonough was the subject of a lengthy piece in the Chicago Tribune yesterday, in which he discussed a number of things pertaining to his team. Of most pertinent interest to Canadiens fans would be what he had to say regarding Andrew Shaw, who they of course traded to Montreal at the draft.
"From the end of the season on, I had workers with hard hats screaming to me from the third floor, 'Don't trade (Andrew) Shaw,' " McDonough said, chuckling. "Wherever you went, people that I would run into said the same thing."
Okay, so starting out pretty well here. Fans didn't want to trade him, and the president of the team appears to have been hearing from all sides to not let him go. Then, when asked what made it tough to eventually deal Shaw:
He had an organic grittiness that really struck a nerve with Chicagoans, maybe more than any athlete I've been associated with. He really resonated with everybody. Not the most skilled player but the classic overachiever. He got under people's skin. He represented what people wanted this franchise to embody.
A gritty overachiever. One who gets under the skin of the opposition. One who resonates well with everyone around the franchise, including fans. I am certain that this sounds like a player that I'm acquainted with. One who played for the Montreal Canadiens.
He also played for the Blackhawks a little as well.
His name is Dale Weise.
This got my gears turning, because one of the things I was most worried about during the off-season was the Canadiens overpaying to bring Weise back to the organization. Such a decision likely would have been motivated by the inflated totals he enjoyed last year before being dealt.
Shaw, for his part, enjoyed a comfortable deployment with the Hawks. His most common linemates at even strength last year were none other than Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, with whom he played just under 260 of his 960 five-on-five minutes. Weise played the vast majority of his time with David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann, but his other most common linemate was Max Pacioretty.
So the book on both players at this point is that they're gritty, in your face, and their respective coaches view them as capable of playing alongside the team's top guys. Shaw is three years younger, and costs $1.25 million more against the cap per year.
So if Shaw is Weise 2.0 for the Habs, did they upgrade? Well, have a look at their numbers since the start of the 2013-14 season.
|CF/60 Rel||CA/60 Rel||CF%||CF% Rel||G/60||A/60||P/60|
Offensively, Shaw and Weise are essentially identital in terms of goal-scoring rate, but Weise takes the title as best offensive player thanks to his playmaking ability. Defensively, and in terms of overall possession, Shaw is the superior player. He doesn't give up as much in his own end, and can still cash in at the other.
Now, this comes with the caveat that Shaw played with some pretty good players in Chicago, but the exact same can be said for Weise's tenure with the Canadiens. Both players have been used above their pay grade, and both have seen some success while doing so.
Shaw of course comes from a better overall team in Chicago, but his relative numbers are that of a legitimately good possession player in a middle-six role. Weise, on the other hand, is not a good possession player. McDonough's comments had me worried, but if Shaw is Weise 2.0, it looks like he is a new and improved model.
I think the Habs made a pretty good call in the signing of Shaw. I was not a big fan of giving up two second-round picks to acquire him in the first place, but the picks are gone, and there is no use crying over spilled milk. I would have liked to bring Shaw in at less than $3.9 million per, but it isn't a gross overpay, especially with the lack of no-movement clauses, so it's quite easy to swallow.
A lot will hinge on how Shaw gets used, and the safe bet is that he'll be used plenty. He is definitely Michel Therrien's style of player, so it is easy to see him getting the minutes he needs to succeed. If Therrien does elect to use him up in the top six, he also looks like he would be less of a hindrance than Weise often was in the eyes of many. With his better all-around ability, Shaw won't require the sheltering that Weise needed to be successful, and those offensive-zone starts can go to the more dangerous scoring options in the lineup.
I was worried that the Habs would overpay for Dale Weise, but they didn't. Andrew Shaw's deal might be a slight overpay, but he definitely looks to be an upgrade on what Weise brought to the table.