With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane shut down for the remainder of the regular season, a number of Blackhawks forwards have been given the opportunity for extended minutes and bigger roles — none more than Andrew Shaw.
Shaw has been taking some spins as the club’s top center between Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp lately and, needless to say, he’s stoked — but also realizes the promotion comes with great obligation.
“It’s a big responsibility and I like taking that on,” Shaw said, per the Chicago Tribune. “I have to play strong defensively and compete in those puck areas, get the puck out.”
Shaw, 22, is the embodiment of what’s made Chicago such a successful organization over the last five years. A fifth-round pick at the ’11 NHL Entry Draft, he’s proven to be a hidden gem, debuting in 2011-12 (how many 5th-rounders debut in their draft year?), then playing a huge role en route to last year’s Stanley Cup.
This season, he’s scored a career-high 19 goals and 36 points.
While there are still areas of his game that needs improvement — most notably in the faceoff circle, where he’s just 44 percent this year — the fact Shaw has gone from a fifth-round pick to centering Hossa and Sharp in the span of three years is evidence to how well the ‘Hawks have drafted, and how much their player development is aided by surrounding youngsters with veteran talent.
“Obviously I’m playing with great players,” Shaw explained. “Hopefully we can create some chemistry here.”