Dale DeGray isnt shocked that the Chicago Blackhawks like what Andrew Shaw brings. But even he is pleasantly surprised at how quickly Shaw has achieved success with them.
DeGray is the Owen Sound general manager, the man who tried trading for Shaw two years ago before getting him prior to last season. DeGray saw what Shaw could bring, and couldnt be happier to see what the forward is doing now with Chicago.
Ill be honest I thought he had good skills, DeGray said not long after Shaw was brought up to Chicago. But last year in Owen Sound, he exceeded in every facet. He had even better skills than I anticipated. Its the same thing youre seeing that I see on the highlights: hes a very good skater and hes tenacious after the puck.
Shaw gained early attention for that tenacity and for his points, as he scored four goals in as many games. But hes also been a smart player on the ice, and its earning him more responsibility special teams -- and ice time. Shaw has had the top time on ice among Blackhawks forwards against Nashville and Vancouver; and outside of an all-around bad team effort in Edmonton, Shaw has been solid on the teams checking line.
Playing a lot of minutes isnt that unusual for Shaw. He said he did the same in Rockford; he had extra responsibilities there, such as special teams, too. But this is the NHL, the big stage. It can be a little more daunting.
Obviously its more nerve-wracking, but Ive kind of adapted to it, Shaw said. Ive been here for a month now and I feel like Im more comfortable on the ice.
Shaws earned the chance to stick around for a while. His fellow Rockford teammates were sent down before and during the All-Star break. Shaw remained. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp were activated off injured reserve on Tuesday.
DeGray isnt surprised.
I know how much the kid wants it, DeGray said. Hell pay the price to get it done. Hes at the NHL level now and its right there for him. He doesnt want anyone to take it away from him, Im sure of that.
Shaw was first called up here because he had that same scrappy nature as the injured Daniel Carcillo. He remains here because hes played well in every respect and has earned it.
It feels great to show the hard work is finally playing off, Shaw said. For every kid out there who doesnt think theyre going to get anywhere, keep working at it. Good things come from it. I mean, look at me: I was drafted my third year eligible, fifth round. I never thought Id be playing in the NHL. But here I am, right?