Andrew Shaw comes to the Habs for the 2016-17 season with a reputation as one of the league’s premier super-pests; making life hard on opposing teams and earning the hate of goalies across the NHL. That reputation, while often earned the hard way by skating that thin line between net-front presence and goalie interference, is compounded by an ability to add a dimension of skill and timely offence that earned him his new contract. This offseason, Bergevin wanted to make the Habs harder to play against and the fans were hoping to add some offensive punch; Shaw is hoping he can satisfy both of those needs.
Last season Shaw found himself up and down a deep Chicago lineup that, while boasting the reigning Art Ross winner, did not put up overly prolific scoring totals. Even so, Shaw’s 34 points during the regular season are probably a reasonable expectation of what we can expect if he stays healthy for the entire year. Given that his most common linemates were Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews, it stands to reason that his continued presence among the Blackhawks top-6 was not predicated on an expectation of a near point-per-game pace.
What Shaw did bring is the so-called intangibles such as energy, grit and leadership. While advanced stats and their advocates often discount these qualities, it will be interesting to see who Shaw’s linemates for the upcoming season will be; the space he creates and the points he does manage are not easily earned and usually come when they are most needed. Not overly skilled or blessed with any particular offensive weaponry, Shaw relies on determination and an uncanny knack for disrupting the defensive game plan of his opponents.
These characteristics do not make for an overly valuable fantasy stat line unless your league takes hits and PIMS into consideration, but, given Michel Therrien’s proven willingness to give first line and power-play minutes to grinders that go to the tough areas, there remains a good chance that Shaw could see some decent complementary stats. It is also worth considering that Shaw led his team in both goals and points during the playoffs in 2015-16, with 4 goals and 6 points in 6 games.
Season Stats: 78 GP, 14 goals, 20 assists, 34 points, +11 rating, 69 PIMS, 148 hits
4 Year Averages
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are prorating all of 2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year. Shaw has been an NHL regular for four seasons.)
At 5’11’’ and 179 lbs, Shaw is neither an offensive catalyst, nor is he a power forward. He finds himself somewhere between Brendan Gallagher and Brandon Prust; he is less skilled than the former but has far more finish than the latter – and brings the determination, work ethic and gritty physical play that have made each of them among the hardest forwards to contain and play against in the NHL, especially if you happen to be a goaltender.
Shaw’s role will likely be as a borderline-elite third liner that has the ability to play up the lineup and provide net presence on the second power play unit. His versatility will be appreciated by Therrien’s line blender throughout the course of the season and if he develops chemistry while given a chance in the top-6, he could stick and allow the Habs to roll three offensive units.
As noted above, there is no reason to assume that Shaw will show a considerable climb or decline when it comes to his stat line for the 2016-17 season. At 25, we have a reasonably good idea of what he will bring to the table. Decent secondary scoring, a good amount of PIMS and hits, and the potential to rack up some points if he is inserted into a scoring role. At the same time, Shaw’s style of play does not lend itself to long-term health, even though he has shown remarkable durability thus far. He remains a good waiver pickup in deep leagues that go week-to-week, when the Habs are lined up for heavy games on the schedule. Aside from that, Shaw’s value remains firmly in the unheralded world of all the little things that help teams win, but do little for fantasy owners looking to boost their stats.