Andrew Shaw: Tracking The Ascent of Chicago’s New Star

When the dust settled on Sunday night, the talk of the United Center was (once again) Blackhawks rookie Andrew Shaw.

Whether it was Jonathan Toews acknowledging his popularity with the fans or San Jose coach Todd McLellan admitting that Shaw had out-worked his best players, the buzz surrounding the kid is now extending beyond Chicago.

But how did Shaw get from the NHL Draft in Minneapolis to skating 16 minutes for the Western Conference-leading Blackhawks? Let’s take a look back.

When Central Scouting produced their final rankings for the 2011 NHL Draft, 210 North American skaters were listed. Shaw was not one of them.

So when the then-19-year-old forward, who was listed at 5’10” and 180 pounds, didn’t hear his named called in the first round, it wasn’t a shock. And when the second and third rounds came and went, there wasn’t a lot of disappointment. When the fourth round passed, nobody was passing kleenex.

In fact, when the young man heard his name called in the fifth round, after 138 other names, there was more surprise that he was being called than that he had been picked. ESPN didn’t have any information for him on their draft profile other than his junior team – Owen Sound – and position.

While at Owen Sound (OHL), Shaw had a nice season last year. In 66 games, he accumulated 54 points (22 goals, 32 assists) and 135 penalty minutes. He followed that performance with an impressive 10 goals and seven assists in only 20 postseason games; he also racked up 53 penalty minutes in the playoffs.

So Shaw was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks. A couple weeks after being selected, he was one of the many prospects invited to Chicago to show the organization what he could do. The attention was on top pick Mark McNeill, the Hayes brothers, and defenseman Stephen Johns.

Once again, Shaw was an afterthought.

By the end of the prospect camp, Shaw was one of the guys everyone was talking about – including Scotty Bowman. He had played with an edge the entire camp, and had the… intestinal fortitude… to drop the gloves with the significantly larger Dylan Olsen. Clearly, the fifth round pick had made a major league impression.

But still, Shaw wasn’t on the radar. When major outlets took stock of the Hawks’ organizational depth at the beginning of this season, most were impressed with Chicago’s improvement and overall quality. Yet Shaw’s name wasn’t mentioned once.

The next step for Shaw was an intriguing move. In early August, Shaw and Rob Flick signed contracts with the Rockford IceHogs. This allowed Shaw to begin skating with some of the other top prospects in the organization while not beginning the clock on his NHL career.

And, as he had done at the prospect camp, Shaw impressed the organization during training camp with the Blackhawks and then, once the regular season started, with the IceHogs.

During training camp, he dropped the gloves with Daniel Carcillo. As he had done at the prospect camp, Shaw showed everyone that he feared no player or situation. In 33 games with Rockford, Shaw scored 12 goals and added nine assists with 80 penalty minutes. He got hot in December and carried that momentum into a professional contract with the Blackhawks.

Shaw’s contract came on the heels of Carcillo getting injured/suspended, but some (including me) questioned if a small, fifth round pick that nobody had heard of six months ago was ready to jump into the NHL’s Western Conference playoff race.

When he made his NHL debut, everyone (again, including me) that had questioned him being ready for prime time was shown to be wrong. And in his seven games with the big club, he’s continued to show the organization that he’s ready for the NHL.

Shaw is the first Hawks player since 2003 with four goals in the first seven games of his NHL career.

On Sunday night, Shaw was credited with the first game-winning goal of his NHL career, a victory that pushed the Hawks back into first place in the Western Conference as one of two teams in the NHL with 60 points (the other being the Rangers).

In seven games, Shaw has been credited with 16 hits, six blocked shots, three takeaways and is winning 54.8 percent of his faceoffs (including all six on Sunday night). What’s more impressive, Shaw is getting regular ice time on the penalty killing unit. Despite coach Joel Quenneville having a history of preferring veterans, Shaw has been given opportunities to prove himself in key situations and has produced.

As the season moves forward, the effort of Shaw will continue to put pressure on veterans like Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik to produce. When Patrick Sharp returns from injury, it’s going to be awfully hard for Quenneville to take Shaw out of the lineup. Indeed, it appears the young man is here to stay.

13 thoughts on “Andrew Shaw: Tracking The Ascent of Chicago’s New Star

  1. As an Owen Sound Attack fan that had the pleasure of watching Shaw last year, I’m incredibly happy for the kid to have the success he’s having already. Some players want it more than others, and he’s one of them. He also led the Memorial Cup in scoring and was named the Hardest Working Player in the OHL last year.

    You’re lucky to have him in Chicago!

  2. Nice article Tab.

    I was calling for Hayes to get brought up, and have been very happy with his play so far. He will only get better.

    I didn’t know much about Shaw, but man, this kid is the real deal. You know it when you see it. Heart and hustle are important, but Shaw has a ton of skill to go with it. I agree, he is here to stay. This will not be a Bickell, or Ben Smith (to a lesser extent) situation.

    Go Hawks

  3. Tab, good article… the only thing missing in it- is @WALL- getting credit for “the Call” on the Shaw call up! ( sorry Tab couldn’t resist).

    The only thing better than Shaw’s goal- Shaw putting 6’4″, 240 lb. Douglas Murray on his ass!!! Ton of skill and heart… but really it his quick ability to read the play/situation that makes him good… you can’t knock that lard-ass Murray down unless he is slightly off balance/turned (he was and Shaw took advantage), Shaw sees the little things!!! This is why Q is using him on PK- Shaw can read the play quickly and attack/retreat- great, fast I.Q. Reminds me of a young John Madden.

    Where can I get a Shaw jersey?

    Stalberg is getting better every game!
    Bickell- played his best game in?????
    Hayes- needs to hire the guy who greatly improved John Scott’s skating over the summer and work with him next summer. ( I know Scott is still slow- but his skating and transitioning are much, much better.) If Hayes were a little better on his change of direction… he will be a bitch to stop!

    With these 2 Rookies playing like this, Hawks top priority has shifted to –
    1.) A Top 3 D-man who can move people from the crease
    2.) Power forward- in front of net guy (Moulson or Pacioretty would be nice)

  4. Shaw played a great game last night vs the Sharks. One thing that impressed me was with about 1:30 left in the 3rd he took a big hit in corner of the Sharks zone. Instead of retaliating and drawing a penalty, he kept his cool.

  5. Thanks Allan, we are fortunate…

    Thanks Tab, great article…and you should take some credit as well…it was, collectively, your comments on Shaw from the beginning that had me intrigued about the young man….and when the Hawks played in the Leaf’s Prospects Tournament, I was able to watch 2 of the games…I made comments afterwards that while McNeil and Danault impressed and looked like they were going to be good NHL players, it was Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw that impressed me the most…

    I agree with everyone’s comments here, that Shaw is here to stay…he does all the important things well…and because he plays hard, he will always find a way to score.

    Thanks again Tab for all your great work, it is appreciated.

  6. Much better game all around & the defense actually showed up!! I agree that Shaw is here to stay. It was also good see to Kane interested in playing again, even tho he got robbed by Niemei he was putting himself in a position to get chances. If he continues to do that & HUSTLE the goals will come in bunches! Kane just needs to play with intensity, if he were to play with the intensity Shaw does he will be outright dominate!

  7. I was able to attend my first ever prospect camp this year. I had no idea who shaw was other than the 5th round pick of the hawks in that years draft. Without a doubt he was one of the most noticeable players on the ice that day. Its wonderful to see him having success right now, i just hope it lasts and he does stay up here. I think tenacity and hustle is without a doubt contagious, this team will benefit greatly from having a player like this on the roster.

    The other player I was intrigued by was a kid with the last name Pettigrew. Does anyone know where he ended up?

  8. Let’s do it. A new youth movement in Chicago. Get these guys ready. I like Brunette, but let him, Carcillo, Frolik and maybe Bickell go. Get a couple of veteran D men and fill out the O with young guys. Hawks will be contenders for years.

  9. I admit I am a Tallon fan and while the changing of the guard over to Jr. was a “rocky” one, drafting players late like this kid Shaw is where I have to give props to Jr and the front office.

    Trading Barker to MN for Johnsson plus the “throw-in” Leddy was such a one sided deal it should have been criminal. It is probably a case study somewhere in an MBA program.

    I admit to be very skeptical of Jr. but so far, he has done well. Work the cap, keep the core together, and cultivate young talent in house.

    Kudos. Talent on the ice is key, but in the salary cap era, a quality front office team is arguably just as important. They go hand in hand.

  10. Like one of the replies above I, too, ventured to one of the prospect camp sessions. While intent on venturing there that day mainly to watch Hayes, McNeil & Saad, the only significant impression I’m still left with involves the kid named Shaw that really plastered another one of the prospects; so bad so that play had to be stopped and whoever it was had to be helped off the ice. Shaw really was playing with an edge that morning and I recall wondering what the brass thought of him roughing up guy’s from the organization; with his presence on the club there’s the answer. Also agree on another point above…an off-season with strength and conditioning training will make him interesting to see going into 2012-13.
    Geezus Hawks, let’s get consistent and a bit more body-minded going forward.
    Lastly, Kane needs just one to get it going again!

  11. Good comments by everyone…

    I think it is worth stating that the fact that the Hawks haven’t made a trade as of yet speaks volumes about what is happening around the league (to everyone).

    The teams that are looking to sell are looking for a king’s ransom, and no one yet is willing to be gauged…the Flames/Habs deal was simply a case of both teams trading overall similar production for a spark…this is NOT what the Hawks and the other contenders are looking for…they need pieces to the puzzle…this means we need one or two key players now, and can’t afford to give up any key pieces.

    Bowman is looking to package marginal players (Bickell, Lepisto, etc ), along with prospects, and picks…most teams want something significant back now…in many of these losing markets GMs won’t keep their jobs by waiting 2 to 4 years for deals to swing in their favour…thus making it difficult for Bowman to get what he wants.

    And the longer he waits, the higher the price for these players will become, and at the end of the day, are we (the fanbase) prepared to see the better part of our system traded away for a couple of “rentaplayers”??? No matter how good they are, giving up Bickell, our #1 pick in the upcoming draft, plus say Jeremy Morin for Francois Beauchemin, or Gleason from the Hurricanes is a step price to pay for players that “should” help for about 40 games.

    So, I think this is where we are and this what Bowman is faced with…give up a ton for decent to good “rental” players, or take our chances with what we have…Kruger is back, and he is becoming a very good player…Hayes and Shaw are great finds, and are adding that physical/character aspect to our game that we have sorely needed…plus, they are scoring…Sharp will be back in 3 weeks, with a nice little breather making him fresh for the playoff run…Kane has been incredibly under productive for almost 2 months, and that simply cannot continue to someone with so much talent, even if you just base it on pure statistics…Stahlberg is blossoming into a top 6 forward in front of our eyes…Frolik is playing hard and trying with every ounce of his existence, the puck will start rolling the right way for someone who gives this much…Bolland has wakened up from his slumber…Mayers is playing some of the best hockey in his entire career…Keith has found Seabrook and vice versa…Leddy has hit bottom and is starting to rebound…Montador gets a little better each week in his own zone…Crawford is trying and Emery is solid…Hossa and Toews are beasts and show no signs of slowing down…plus, maybe Ben Smith getting called back up, once Carcillo comes off the books, or Pirri, might hit a gear and spark this team as well.

    Look, I am as passionate about adding 2 key players to the mix as any other Hawks fan, but NOT if it means giving away the farm, especially for players that may not be here past the rest of this season. Stan Bowman knew we needed these players during the summer, but he decided to wait, to see how some players would develop and then specifically target exactly what we needed, when we really needed it…well, it has apparently backfired on him. And now, we either likely dramatically overpay for a decent rental player, or we stand put and enter the playoffs with significant areas of weakness (like EVERY other playoff team has as well, with the exception of maybe Boston).

    This is why some people, like myself, called for deals to be done over the summer, and not wait to see if it is a buyers or sellers market…because now that we are here, it is squarely a sellers market, and if we choose to dance, we are going to likely pay a King’s ransom!

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