Marc Bergevin made a big splash at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft when he traded away Lars Eller — the frequent target of trade rumours, but up to that point they were never more than that — and brought in Andrew Shaw in a simultaneous transaction.
In an effort to learn more about the forward who has won two Stanley Cups, we reached out to Satchel Price of our SB Nation sister site Second City Hockey, and asked him a few questions about the former Chicago Blackhawks player.
EOTP: For starters, if you could describe Andrew Shaw in a single word, what would it be?
What can you tell us about Shaw's rise through the team's ranks from draft to last season?
I will say that the thing that always made Shaw unique during his rise was his actual hockey ability. Everyone always talked about his grit and aggressiveness, but Shaw is part of the rare breed that couples those traits with a real balance of skills. I think when he got bumped into a top-line role with Jonathan Toews, his limitations started to show more frequently, but Shaw's rise is, to me, a testament to being skilled as much as gritty.
With Chicago, was he a by-product of his linemates, or did he contribute to their success? How important was he to the team? Did you regret that Andrew Shaw left the Blackhawks?
Shaw was hardly a by-product of his linemates because he rarely had consistent ones. That versatility is part of what makes him so valuable. He can be the checking option on an otherwise skilled line, or the more skilled option on a checking line. Joel Quenneville would bounce him around the lineup as needed, which made him incredibly valuable as the stopgap solution to various problems.
It's hard to totally separate any player from what happens around him, but with Shaw, his ability to fit into different roles is precisely what makes him valuable.
He had 27 minor penalties last season; first on the Blackhawks in that category. How would you qualify these minor penalties? Does Shaw take lazy penalties (holding, tripping, etc...)?
I wouldn't call them lazy penalties: I'd call them overzealous penalties. Shaw is definitely prone to making the sloppy play every once in a while, but a lot of his penalties simply come from trying to push the envelope as an energy player. It's part of the nature of how he plays. His aggression can stifle opponents, but it also can lead to a lack of attention to detail and dumb penalties. That's the one thing ‘Hawks fans definitely won't miss about him.
Where is Shaw ideally positioned in a lineup?
I think ideally Shaw is placed where he was during the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run in 2015: as the offensive punch on a stellar checking line (with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Desjardins). Shaw is very good defensively when he's not committing penalties, and unlike most guys who end up on checking lines, he can create offensively, too.
The New Guys
Now, the Hawks couldn't return him to that role last season because they needed him higher in the lineup, and the same will presumably be the case in Montreal. But I think, in an ideal world, he's a high-level bottom-six guy.
What are your thoughts on the Canadiens signing Shaw to a six-year deal worth $23.4 million? Is he worth it?
The term scares me a lot more than the AAV. Shaw is almost certainly worth $3.9 million right now, but that's a deal fraught with risk as the years pile up and he passes age 30. Shaw's camp reportedly was willing to significantly lower the AAV on his deal with Chicago in exchange for seven or eight years. The Hawks said “no” and traded him, and while the Habs have a bit more flexibility than Chicago, I think that was the right call. For Montreal, the move does make some sense, but it's undeniably risky on the back end.
Is there anything you think that Montreal Canadiens fans need to know about Andrew Shaw?
You're almost certainly going to love him. Aside from whatever opinions you hold over the controversial (and gross) remarks he made to a referee during last year's playoffs — which he did apologize for — Shaw is the kind of hockey player that everyone loves. He busts his ass, defends his teammates, and even scores a goal every once in a while. There's no doubt he's far from perfect, but there's a reason that so many Hawks fans were furious when the team announced he was traded to Montreal.
We would like to thank Satchel for taking the time to answer these questions, and look forward to seeing Andrew Shaw act a pest for Montreal for years to come!