The long and winding 82-game season came to an end for the Chicago Blackhawks in a 7-5 loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night. The high-scoring matchup perpetuated numerous storylines, including Antti Raanta‘s rather terrible performance in net over the past several months and Chicago’s yearlong unreliability at the defensive end of the ice. Understandably, many things go overlooked in this vortex of negativity. One such example is the excellent regular season that Andrew Shaw just completed.
The production speaks for itself. Shaw’s 20 goals and almost 40 points are quite impressive, given that he has primarily played on Chicago’s third line. His importance goes beyond goals and assists, however. Shaw draws more penalties per 60 minutes (p/60) than any other permanent roster player on the Blackhawks. Despite his reputation for taking ill-advised penalties, his own p/60 isn’t significantly different from Marcus Kruger‘s, Patrick Sharp‘s, Kris Versteeg‘s or Niklas Hjalmarsson‘s.
Shaw provides an important gritty element to Chicago’s roster that is otherwise fairly lacking, having the second most hits of all Blackhawks forwards this season (trailing only Brandon Bollig, who doesn’t do much else). Further adding to Shaw’s value is his relatively inexpensive contract. His salary cap hit for the next two seasons is a modest $2 million, and this bargain should prove exceptionally useful for the soon-to-be-cash strapped Blackhawks.
In addition to Shaw’s offensive production, hitting and great contract, his knack for irritating opponents calls to mind the image of Dave Bolland circa 2010 and 2013, a player key in each of Chicago’s Stanley Cup runs.
Perhaps it will be Shaw who fits that description come June.