Trading Andrew Shaw Was Right Move For Chicago Blackhawks
It was unavoidable the Chicago Blackhawks moving Andrew Shaw was going to generate some sad, frustrated and angry reactions from the fan base. Shaw was the kind of everyman who many fans could get behind, a player without as much talent as some of his teammates, but one who played hard every shift.
His negotiating rights as a restricted free agent were moved Friday just prior to the 2016 NHL Draft, with the Montreal Canadiens giving back two second-round picks in exchange. Both of those will be used today (barring further trading), along with the Blackhawks’ pre-established second-round pick, giving the Blackhawks the 39th, 45th and 50th overall selections.
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This move of Shaw occurred not long after it was revealed he had requested a $4.5 million per year contract moving forward. The Blackhawks (rightly) decided Shaw wasn’t worth that, and also must’ve determined negotiating to a reasonable price tag wasn’t going to achieve much, so General Manager Stan Bowman got what he could out of Shaw, similar to the Brandon Saad situation a year ago.
While it’s unfortunate to lose someone who helped the team to a pair of Stanley Cups, this trade of Shaw makes a lot of sense for the Blackhawks. For starters, there was no way the Blackhawks could afford to pay Shaw that kind of money. They’re already pressed up tight against the salary cap, even with the slight raise of $1.6 million, and spending $4.5 million a year on a guy who really is a bottom-six winger/center is foolish — at best.
Bowman must have realized Shaw wasn’t going to take a one-year bridge deal for less money with the promise of a bigger contract in the future, and he must’ve also realized Shaw wasn’t going to accept around $3 million AAV or less, which would at least be a feasible contract for the Blackhawks to take on. So he went to work getting fair compensation.
And I would say Bowman got more than that. After taking heat for a rough trade that saw Teuvo Teravainen shipped out so Bryan Bickell‘s motley contract could finally be moved, Bowman pulled this one off. On the same night, the St. Louis Blues sent goaltender Brian Elliott to Calgary for one second-round pick, as well as a conditional third-rounder in 2018.
How Bowman managed to get two earlier selections in the current draft for a bottom-six forward asking for $4.5 million per year, we may never know. Montreal obviously values Shaw greatly, so maybe Bowman didn’t have to do too much convincing. But we’re still talking about two top-50 draft picks for the rights to signing negotiations for a guy who has hit 20 goals once in five seasons.
Outside of the present, this deal is also a win for the Blackhawks. I was becoming concerned Bowman was planning toward one final, big blowoff attempt at the Stanley Cup before shrugging at the future.
The Patrick Sharp deal saw promising young defenseman Stephen Johns sent to Dallas. Teuvo was sent off in a similar way recently. The Blackhawks lost Phillip Danault in a trade-deadline deal earlier this year and have reportedly soured on forward Mark McNeill.
On top of all that, the Blackhawks were reportedly kicking the tires pretty hard on acquiring Evgeni Malkin from the Penguins while being “50-50” on re-signing Shaw despite his asking price. These are not the signs of a man planning toward the future, which some would be fine with and others would detest.
Personally, while I understand the number of good years left on the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford (as well as Marian Hossa, Marcus Kruger and Artem Anisimov) is limited and dropping all the time, setting up for 2016-17 like a last stand for the Cup would be a reckless maneuver, and would leave the Blackhawks in pretty bad shape in the immediate future afterward. Not to mention the improvements the team would need to make for such a “last stand” to be effective.
So Bowman making this move with Shaw versus sacrificing Kruger to re-sign Shaw is a promising sign that Bowman is not solely worried about 2016-17. He’s still building toward the future, while also trying to give the 2016-17 Chicago outfit a chance to take back the silver chalice.
It may seem sacrilegious to question Bowman after some of the moves he’s made to help the team to its recent run of success, but there’s nothing wrong with questioning a GM’s direction and intentions. His decisions in 2010 have little to no bearing on his decisions in 2016, except for us fans to use as a predictor of what might be next.
Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. Ultimately, Bowman made a really solid move by swapping Shaw for two top-50 picks before he was left with nothing but a forward with whom he was far apart on contract negotiations. Shaw’s contributions to the Blackhawks will always be appreciated, but it was time for a separation. And Bowman made the most of that moment.