Three Keys To Success for Chicago Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw
Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw played well when he was in the lineup, but the biggest question for him this upcoming season is can he remain healthy?
More Andrew Shaw being Andrew Shaw in 2020-21, please. He has health questions due to the concussions, but if he can keep himself in the lineup the Chicago Blackhawks are a more dangerous team upfront.
Shaw was reacquired from the Montreal Canadiens along with a 2021 7th round pick on July 1st, 2019 for a 2nd round pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft (Jan Mysac, 48th overall), a 7th round pick in 2020 (Chase Bradley, 203rd overall to Detroit) and a 3rd round pick in the 2021 Draft.
Andrew Shaw is currently being paid $4 million against the cap for his services through 2021-22, if he wants to remain on the Hawks he will need to play up to his contract. To be paid middle 6 money, you need to produce middle six numbers. To produce those numbers, you need to remain in the lineup.
If Shaw does come back (as is looking the most likely) he will need to remain healthy all season, improve his offensive production and maintain, and increase his defensive presence.
Key 1: Stay healthy
With Andrew Shaw likely making a return in the 20-21 NHL season, the first key to his success will need to be remaining healthy for all 82 games. Shaw has never played every single game in a full season (in the lockout year, he did skate in all 48 games), whether it be because of injury or suspension.
He will absolutely need to remain healthy to maximize his second stint in Chicago, even if he gets another suspension and misses because of that, it is better than missing because of injury in this case. Another concussion very easily could end Shaw’s pro hockey career. Of course, if he can avoid making those dangerous hits and spears that gave him those suspensions that is also welcome.
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Key 2: Improve offense
Andrew Shaw had a pretty good season for himself when he was in, recording 3 goals and 7 assists for 10 points. Those marks are of course low, but he only played 26 games. Additionally, he wasn’t far off his career average point per game of .42 with the .38 he registered this season.
However Shaw wasn’t reacquired to, certainly isn’t being paid $4 million, to barely miss it. He’s getting paid to at least hit that mark and he was reacquired because of the 47pts he recorded in 63 games for the Habs. The bottom line is, his offense needs to come back. Especially if he wants that versatile role that gets him on the Toews line at times.
Key 3: Maintain strong play away from the puck
The fact that Shaw was able to maintain a positive Corsi on a team that was not good at suppressing shots is a good sign for him though. His 50.8% Corsi compared to the team’s average of 48.6% means that even though he didn’t have the offensive numbers he did the previous season, he was still playing well on a depleted Hawks team.
Of course, his point shares were abysmal (0.3 and 0.2 for offense and defense respectively, but he only played 29 games) and his expected goals were poor to his standards. With how awful the Blackhawks were in their zone though, being positive at all is a good thing (his xGDiff was +1.5 while the team as a whole is nearly minus 15). He will need to be at least that competent again next season, with his point shares rebounding and his expected goal differential coming back up to his average of around 2.5.
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If Andrew Shaw can pull off all of these three keys, not only will he be an invaluable voice in the room who knows how to work, he will be one of the better players on the team and his contract will better reflect his contributions.