Andrew Shaw has been the Hawks’ ultimate utility player

SHARE Andrew Shaw has been the Hawks’ ultimate utility player

More than 100 minutes after he stepped on the ice, Andrew Shaw’s hair was an unruly mess of curls and cowlicks, falling in his eyes in the front and fluffing out in waves from the back. He spent the summer growing it out, joking that someone needed to take over the mantle of Best Hair now that Patrick Sharp is in Dallas. But he’s probably going to “clean it up” before the season starts.

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” he said. “It’s fun having long hair.”

Long hair or short, top line or fourth line, center or wing, Shaw always seems to be having fun. And he always seems to make it work. Versatility always has been Shaw’s strong suit, and given the holes the Hawks have to fill, and the players the Hawks have added, the fifth-year pro will need it.

Shaw has spent the past two days on his off wing, skating to the left of Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa on the Hawks’ top line — the line that helped make Brandon Saad a star, and the line that helped Marko Dano light up the scoreboard during training camp. Last spring, Shaw made a significant impact as a shutdown defender as the right wing alongside Andrew Desjardins and Marcus Kruger. He’s spent most of his Hawks career as the third-line center. And he’s made his living clogging the crease on the power play.

“It’s good to have that versatility as a hockey player,” Shaw said. “I’ll play wherever they tell me to play.”

That said, he sure wouldn’t mind sticking around on that top line.

“Every player would hope they stayed up there,” Shaw said. “But this is a team where things change all the time. So I’m just going to keep working and keep competing. Hopefully, we can create some good chemistry.”

Shaw’s versatility and willingness to take on any role is a big reason why he’s the last man standing from his generation of prospects. He came up through the Rockford IceHogs with the likes of Brandon Pirri, Ben Smith, Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Bollig, Ryan Stanton and Dylan Olsen — all of whom are on other teams. Shaw was one of the first to crack the lineup, and he never relinquished his spot.

“It shows they have confidence in my play,” he said. “It’s something you notice, but hockey’s a business. Stuff like that’s going to happen.”

But as much as he’s etched his name in Hawks lore with his shin pads and his gashed cheek in the 2013 playoffs, along with his stellar play in the 2015 title run, Shaw’s name has been bandied about in trade discussions since the Hawks’ cap purge began almost immediately after winning the Stanley Cup in June. The 24-year-old is in the last year of his contract, and the addition of Ryan Garbutt — a similar, agitating-type of player — could, in theory, make him expendable.

General manager Stan Bowman said on Saturday that he wouldn’t be adding any players via trade before the season starts, but that leaves open the possibility of one last salary dump. The Hawks have been unsuccessful in finding a taker for Bryan Bickell’s $4-million contract. But Shaw makes $2 million, and a source said the Hawks have at least entertained the idea of moving him to give the teams some room to maneuver under the cap.

For now, Shaw’s focused on the Hawks, and what he can do to make them better. And as the last four years have shown, he’s basically willing to do anything Joel Quenneville asks — whether that’s to crash one net on the top line, or defend the other on the fourth.

“The thing about this team, there’s a lot of chemistry throughout everybody,” Shaw said. “You get a chance to play with everyone all year. And I think [Quenneville] has more than just one thing in his back pocket.”


Twitter: @marklazerus

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