To say it didn’t take fans long to notice Andrew Shaw last season would be an understatement. In Shaw’s first game, he took a boarding penalty against Capitals defenceman Connor Hobbs, earning him a three-game suspension, and then fought Nathan Walker, pumping up the home crowd while the fight was still taking place.
These actions had many fans scratching their heads, wondering what Marc Bergevin was thinking, trading two second round picks to the Blackhawks for Shaw, and then signing him to a six-year, $23.4 million contract.
Shaw finished his first year with the Canadiens with 12 goals and 17 assists, playing 68 games. This was five less points than his final year with the Blackhawks, but in 10 less games. Shaw also set a career high with 110 PIM (his next highest season was 76 in 12 more games played). The energetic forward also had five fights during the regular season, dropping the gloves with Chris Neil, Corey Perry, J.T. Miller, Torey Krug and Alexandre Burrows.
It wasn’t until Claude Julien took over as head coach that Shaw’s game started to change for the better. He only collected 22 penalty minutes for the remainder of the season, registered 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists), and still played aggressively, as the Canadiens finished the season 16-7-1 under their new head coach, winning the Atlantic Division.
It will be interesting to see how Shaw will be utilized under Julien during a full season, but it was very obvious that Shaw was much more comfortable playing under Julien than he was under Michel Therrien.
When it comes to possible line mates, I see Andrew Shaw starting as the third line right wing, with Paul Byron on the left, and Tomas Plekanec playing centre. This line would be defensively responsible, quick, and able to contribute on the scoreboard, especially with Shaw causing havoc in front of the net.
This line would also hopefully be a boost to Tomas Plekanec, who had just 28 points last season, after finishing with 54 the season prior. If an injury was to occur to a player in the top six, Shaw could fill that role as he can be counted on to play all forward positions, and contribute to the power-play.
Simply put, if Andrew Shaw can stay healthy, while staying out of the penalty box and the attention of NHL Player Safety, he could have a career year in goals and points under Claude Julien.
Andrew Shaw is a player that is exciting to watch, brings fans to their feet, plays with an edge, and teammates rally behind. That said, he can only do so if he doesn’t cross the fine line between a legal play, and a suspension. This will be very important to his success, and the success of the Montreal Canadiens in 2017-2018.
What are your thoughts Habs fans? What should we expect from Andrew Shaw in 2017-2018?