January 5, 2012 2 Comments
Although the Philadelphia Flyers managed to steal their second game in a row from the Chicago Blackhawks since falling to them in six games in the 2010 Stanley Cup final, the big story of the night (and one that was a nice surprise to the numerous NHL scouts in attendance) was Chicago rookie Andrew Shaw. Having been drafted in the fourth round (139th overall) in this past year’s draft, everyone expected that he would spend another year or two in junior before turning pro.
But like a few other of his brethren in the NHL world, Shaw was able to impress his employers enough and be placed on the Rockford IceHogs’ American League roster to start the 2011-12 campaign. It should not come as a shock to those who have followed him the past few years. Last season he posted a career-high 54 points in 66 games with the Owen Sound Attack in the Ontario League, en route to leading them to an OHL Championship and a berth in the Memorial Cup. In that tournament, he led all players with seven points in just four games – and was awarded the OHL’s Hardest Working Player of the Year award.
Most players recently drafted are under the age of 20 and cannot be assigned to the minor leagues according to the rules of the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. But having been overage in the summer and turning 20 before September 15 of the current season, he became eligible for all three professional hockey leagues, allowing Chicago to expose him to higher competition, rather than allowing him to score at will in the OHL.
On January 4, he got the call from head coach Joel Quenneville, informing him that he would be joining one of the best teams in the NHL to Philadelphia, one of the toughest buildings in the league, to face off against the Flyers. Not only did he come along for the ride, but he managed to win a spot on the first line along with captain Jonathan Toews and sharpshooter Patrick Sharp (no pun intended).
As if that was not enough, Shaw decided to drop the gloves against Zac Rinaldo, the small, yet feisty Flyers forward with a knack for introducing opponents to the Wells Fargo Center ice. He did the same with Shaw, but even after a facial cut that sent him to the locker room, it was simply not enough to prevent him from performing some grade “A” stickhandling en route to his first NHL goal, off passes from Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and the Conn Smythe Trophy winning Toews.
Not many fourth round draft picks even make it to the NHL, let alone the season after being drafted. Yet Shaw has already impressed Chicago management and is looking to stake claim to a permanent spot for what should be another impressive Stanley Cup run in the spring.