Chicago Blackhawks Can’t Give Andrew Shaw The Money He Wants
While trade rumors relating to the Chicago Blackhawks are mostly circling around Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger ahead of the NHL draft, which begins tonight in Buffalo, the current talking point has to do with Shaw’s contractual demands.
According to Blackhawks beat writers, Shaw has requested a deal with an yearly salary of $4.5 million. Yes, that’s just $1.5 million less than what Brandon Saad requested last year and about as much as Artem Anisimov makes now (meaning in the 2016-17 season).
So, let’s get the obvious out of the way: The Blackhawks can’t pay Shaw $4.5 million per season, for any amount of time. They won’t be able to field a 23-man roster if they do. And with that being the apparent starting point for Shaw’s desire payment, the Blackhawks are not going to be able to get down to a number that fits their salary cap situation and satisfies Shaw — something like $2.5 or $2.75 million, $3 million max.
That means the Blackhawks need to move the rights to Shaw before or during the draft. Remember, Shaw is a restricted free agent, so the Blackhawks wouldn’t be trading Shaw — they’d be trading the right to negotiate with him, similar to what Florida did with the New York Rangers and defenseman Keith Yandle recently.
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If $4.5 million is the starting point for contract discussions, I don’t see a way the Blackhawks can work Shaw down to a salary-cap-fitting number without moving someone like Kruger. And moving someone like Kruger is simply not worth re-signing someone like Shaw, especially at that big of a cost.
As has been repeated on this site by multiple writers, Shaw is entirely replaceable. He brings grit and heart and a little goal scoring. Those are all things you can find somewhere else at a much cheaper price than $4.5 million. Kruger brings the ability to start a lot of his shifts in the defensive zone, keep the puck out of his net and actually move the puck into the offensive zone to start scoring chances for his team.
Now $3.3 million was a lot to pay for those qualities, too, but $4.5 million for what Shaw brings? That’s insane. Anything above $3 million is insane. Heck, $3 million is almost too much.
But the Blackhawks set themselves up for this. Kruger’s deal at $3.3 million allows Shaw to ask for more money. Kruger is a bottom-six center, and Shaw is, in theory, a bottom-six winger. Additionally, coach Joel Quenneville playing Shaw on the top six at times allows Shaw’s camp to tout him having a greater value to the Blackhawks, or to any team.
So it’s not surprising Shaw’s camp would ask for this as a starting point. However, it makes it far more difficult for the team to effectively negotiate with him. And considering he is a replaceable asset, I think the Blackhawks should move the rights to negotiating with him for something tangible in the immediate future.
There is one other thing I want to address, and that’s the idea that Shaw wants to get paid like the two-time Stanley Cup champion he is. Yes, Shaw is a two-time champ. But you know what? Just because a guy was a part of two Cup winners doesn’t mean he deserves to get paid like the key piece of both of those wins.
In the 2013 victory, Shaw tallied nine points over 21 games and led the team in penalty minutes with 35. He was almost more a detriment to the team than an aid. His points total was closer to that of Kruger (two points) than that of Patrick Kane (team-best 19 points). The one thing everyone remembers about Shaw in this postseason was him getting the final deflection on the game-winning goal in the triple-overtime game against Boston. The team is considering paying $4.5 million for that?
In 2015, Shaw played a more important role in setting up with Kruger and Andrew Desjardins on the checking line. He still tallied 12 points, but he again led the team in penalty minutes with 36. Again, this is worth $4.5 million? I’d argue it’s not worth $3 million.
Look, I know Shaw holds a special place in the hearts of many Blackhawks fans, but it’s pretty evident at this point it’s time for the team to move on. They need to consider their future instead of trying to cling to the past, especially when it will cost them big bucks and potentially wind up damaging their future.