There’s a tendency to paint Andrew Shaw as nothing but an annoyance on skates, someone who gets under opponents’ skin and pitches a tent there. He is that, and it’s a commodity in hockey more than it is in other sports.
But he’s a very talented player, and that sometimes gets lost in all the scrums he finds himself in. He’s a better skater than he gets credit for, and he’s excellent in front of the net. The Blackhawks are going to miss all of him if they lose the forward because of salary cap issues. He’s not Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews, obviously, but he’s a package deal of skills that won’t be easily replaced.
These are the kind of losses that chip away at a successful franchise struggling with the cap. It’s hockey erosion, and the Hawks have managed to battle it well over the past seven seasons.
There are plenty of professionals who can fill Shaw’s role as an irritant, though he is something of an artist in the ways of giving an opponent a face wash with his glove. But the Hawks would be hard-pressed to find someone who can do that and score 15 to 2o goals a season.
The good news? Nobody knew who Shaw was when the Hawks took him in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. He was a guy who had played for the Niagara IceDogs and the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. He had gone two years without being drafted.
Perhaps there’s another Andrew Shaw out there just waiting for his chance to drive an opponent to murderous thoughts — and score more than a few goals.