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Andrew Shaw is a prime candidate for inclusion in an impact trade

The versatility Shaw has shown was appreciated by Montreal’s staff, and will have drawn the attention of other teams as well.

Vancouver Canucks v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Andrew Shaw put together a very good season in 2018-19 for the Montreal Canadiens, with a career high of 47 points despite playing just 63 games. Impressively, 39 of those points came at five-on-five as he was a big part of one of the top possession clubs in the NHL.

His versatility was on display as well, lining up in all three forward positions throughout the year, and getting steady time on the power play as well. After quality work in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, and two seasons showing glimpses of how good he could be, his value as an NHL player was put in the spotlight this year.

He was one member of a strong forward group that allowed the coaching staff to put together three solid lines from the start of the season, which hasn’t often been the case in recent history.

At the end of the year, the team had added Jordan Weal and Nate Thompson, and watched the debut of Ryan Poehling in Game 82. The roster now has more than enough players to fill out the 12 spots in the forward corps. The centre position was significantly improved in the off-season, while significant strength continues to lie in the contingent of wingers.

The forward depth is strong enough now that the Canadiens can afford to part with one of their players to address a weaker area in the organization.

Right now, that area is the left side of the defence, which does have some quality players with Victor Mete and Brett Kulak playing regular roles, but could use another top-four option. To get a player of that quality, you have to part with one of the better players on your roster.

The rumours in the past week have mentioned Shaw as a target for the other party in such a trade. While it would be good to add a top-four defender on the left side, the loss of Shaw would be a significant hit to the quality at forward.

Such is the nature of an NHL trade; to get an impact player, you need to trade an impact player. The cost of addressing a significant hole in the organization is a top-end player, and that’s a price the Canadiens hadn’t been able to afford for a long time. In the past, moves were typically of the lateral variety, plugging one hole by creating another.

While that would still be the case should Shaw be the one moved — he’s a top-six producer on the team, and there’s no one immediately below him to jump directly into his role and provide the same kind of play — the additions of Weal and Joel Armia last season and a promising group of prospects led by Nick Suzuki mean that many of Shaw’s duties can be handed to another player. Perhaps one of them will serve as an upgrade in certain aspects; Shaw was rarely used on the penalty kill, and saw little success on the power play, for example.

It would be a tough decision to trade Shaw after how well he played and how much he directly contributed to the team, but he happens to be one of the most valuable assets at the deepest position on the roster. He is therefore a prime choice to be included in a trade, not because he no longer fits in the Canadiens’ plans, but because he’s proven he would be a good addition to any team. Interest in a player who plays the game hard and gets rewarded for it with strong offensive numbers is high, and Montreal is in a position to explore the various options.