At this point, the Chicago Blackhawks should just spend the last 30 minutes or so of every practice holding tryouts for center. Their center depth is poor, and they’ve thrown out just about every name on the roster as a possibility to play in the middle, if they haven’t already.
Next on the list is Andrew Shaw, one of the youngest Blackhawks who made a name for himself as a grinder type last season after earning a callup about mid-way through the year. This is an intriguing move on a couple of different fronts for the Hawks.
Shaw played wing all of last season, but prior to his callup, he had been a center for his entire career. Whether or not he could be an effective one for the Hawks remains to be seen. It couldn’t possibly be as bad as the Patrick Kane second line center experiment, could it?
Not likely. Kane was a wing attempting to make the transition to center. Shaw is a center potentially making the transition to center. And the role he’d be playing could allow him to be a perfect fit in that spot.
Dave Bolland made a living by making life a nightmare for opposing forwards on that third unit. He established himself as one of the game’s premier defensive forwards playing there. And there isn’t much of a concern over a difference in size, since Shaw is just an inch shorter, though he’s quite a bit lighter than Bolland.
Another concern could be a lack of success in the faceoff circle. But Bolland doesn’t really see too much success there to begin with, so it wouldn’t be as big of a dropoff as may be originally thought. If Shaw could force his way in there and use the body to win a few draws, he could be effective.
While some have groaned at the thought of Andrew Shaw in the middle, this isn’t the worst idea by the Blackhawks. Not by a mile. He can be an agitator in the middle for the Hawks, while Bolland moves up to the second line and another wing spot is opened up for someone else.
Aside from Shaw and Bolland, you’re looking at Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger as the only other centers on the roster, save maybe Jamal Mayers. At this point, what better option do the Hawks have as a fourth center (in terms of numbers, not lines) than Shaw?