The Chicago Blackhawks have a few roster spots to fill before the season begins.
Blackhawks winger Andrew Shaw is expected to fill one of those voids.
Much can be said about the young winger who got his first crack at the NHL last season. Coming onto a de-energized 'Hawks team last season, Shaw put up 23 points in 37 games.
Being a smaller guy in the NHL, Shaw used his speed and hockey sense to get to the front of the net and cause havoc. He even got involved in a scrap or two alongside the boards to protect his teammates.
Starting the season on the Rockford IceHogs thanks to the NHL lockout, Shaw has been anything but quiet.
But now the NHL is back, the Blackhawks are reconvening at Johnny's IceHouse and Andrew Shaw is expected to be part of that roster. Shaw stated, (via CSN Chicago) "It’s been a great opportunity to play in the AHL. We’ve stayed pretty focused down there. Coming up here, we’ll push guys and they’ll push us."
Shaw is also expected to elevate his game from last season.
The rowdy winger has become a great utility player for the Blackhawks—one that is reminiscent of Andrew Ladd, though not as skilled just yet.
But after an impressive showing last season, Shaw will be expected to contribute in more ways than just one.
To stay up on the Blackhawks roster, Shaw must demonstrate great defensive play, a quality that was a little shaky last season.
Coach Joel Quenneville is expecting his top prospects to buy into his defensively-minded system.
Shaw's determination, grit and ability to get to the puck before an opponent has given him the chance to excel at a NHL level.
Discipline will also be a huge factor in the Blackhawks retaining Shaw.
Regardless of who is at fault, Shaw has to take a step back and avoid taking penalties as well as getting suspended. He may be standing up for his teammates by jumping off the bench to pick a fight, but it won't help the roster in the long run.
Let's not get too far ahead, nobody is expecting Shaw to put up first-line style points. Growing pains will be there and Shaw might have some trouble adapting to a 48-game NHL season, but that is expected.
Half a NHL season may also be a big advantage for Shaw, considering that many teams will play back-to-back games twice a week.
Being a younger player with a ton of tenacity, Shaw should excel among players that get fatigued as the season progresses. In that case expect his point total to go up a little bit as well as the amount of ice time he receives.
Only time will tell, but Shaw is on his way to becoming a core player on the Blackhawks roster.
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