Over his several years at the helm, Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman has had to give up a number of players for salary-cap related reasons, but he’s also had a knack for bringing a few of those same players back when he felt the timing was right. Included in that group have been players such as Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Brian Campbell and Johnny Oduya. Free agent Marcus Kruger also just completed a second tour of duty with the Blackhawks, and Brandon Saad has spent the past two seasons in Chicago after a brief, two-season stopover with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
And on the eve of the opening of signing season, Bowman added another to his list of Chicago second-timers, acquiring Andrew Shaw, who was a part of two Stanley Cup victories with the Blackhawks, from Montreal nearly three seasons to the day after shipping him off to the Canadiens. As part of the deal, Chicago sent three picks – second- and seventh-round selections in 2020, as well as a 2021 third-round choice – to Montreal. A 2021 seventh-round pick also went back the Blackhawks’ way.
While not at all a deal anyone had seen coming, nor a move anyone had projected Montreal making, Chicago’s reacquisition of Shaw comes at a time when the Blackhawks are in dire need of additions up front. In possession of an offensive logjam at the time Shaw was sent packing at the 2016 draft, a deal which netted Chicago a pair of picks that turned into Alex DeBrincat and prospect Chad Krys, the Blackhawks have since seen their depth up front thinned and had only seven NHL regulars inked to deals for next season prior to acquiring Shaw, who becomes the eighth.
Adding Shaw, too, brings a certain measure of stability and consistency to the lineup that simply didn’t exist prior. While the top-end scoring existed in the likes of DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, assuming last season’s breakout was no flash in the pan, Chicago’s depth was awfully thin and the expectation entering the season was that it would be filled with bit players, most of whom were unproven and vying for regular work in the big league. Shaw, however, is a known quantity in more ways than one.
First, he brings scoring to the middle six and the kind of grind-line energy that was arguably missing from the group. The 27-year-old, who has played both on the wing and down the middle in recent years, had established himself as a crash-and-bang scorer before he was moved to the Canadiens and built on that reputation with a pair of decent years and a 19-goal, 47-point performance this past season. Combined across his three seasons in Montreal, Shaw’s production was roughly 19 goals and 43 points per 82 games, and that’s exactly what the Blackhawks are hoping to get out of Shaw.
As much as he brings offense, though, Shaw also brings some cost certainty to the lineup. With three years remaining on his contract at $3.9-million per season, Chicago gets a definite second- or third-line player at a fixed rate, not to mention the exact type of player who would undoubtedly be more expensive on the open market were that the way the Blackhawks plugged the same hole.
Chicago got all of that without a cost of acquisition that was awfully high, as well. While DeBrincat’s performance over the past two seasons is proof positive of the value of a second-round pick, there’s no guarantee any of the three picks will turn into NHL regulars or even players of Shaw’s caliber. And given the Blackhawks’ clear desire to add in the present after finishing just outside the playoff picture last season, parting ways with a few futures was reasonable to address the need for scoring in the middle of the lineup.
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