Blackhawks' Shaw exceeding expectations

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Blackhawks' Shaw exceeding expectations

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?

Artemi Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

Artemi Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

A little more than two years ago Artemi Panarin had many NHL teams vying for his services, the Blackhawks winning the bidding war and signing him. On Friday the Panarin-Blackhawks union was over, the 25-year-old traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

But according to his agent, if Panarin had it to do all over again, he still would have signed with the Blackhawks.

Dan Milstein, who represents Panarin, said the Russian left wing is forever grateful to the Blackhawks for the past two seasons in which he put up stellar numbers in consecutive regular seasons.

“The experience, playing on the same line with [Artem] Anisimov and [Patrick] Kane, having coach [Joel] Quenneville and many other members of the organization help him along the way, providing the translation services and being there for him, the entire process made his transition to North America extremely easy,” Milstein said. “He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago.”

Milstein was in Chicago on Friday morning when he got the call from Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman on the trade – Bowman told the media on Friday that the deal “came together pretty quickly.” Milstein immediately called Panarin, who was about to get on a plane for a fishing trip in Russia.

“Initially he was shocked. But as the day went on we kept in touch and he understands,” Milstein said. “He said, ‘I understand it’s a business. I accept the challenge.’ His last words were, ‘I accept the challenge.’”

The deal, which sent Panarin and his upcoming two-year deal worth $6 million per season to Columbus, brought Brandon Saad back to Chicago. Saad will likely bring stability to the Blackhawks’ top line, which has missed his presence since he was traded in the summer of 2015. Who Kane’s left wing will be this season remains to be seen. Quenneville said on Saturday that Nick Schmaltz will probably get a good chance there; he played with Kane when Anisimov was hurt last season.

Still, the chemistry between Kane and Panarin will be tough to match. Milstein said he saw Kane briefly at the NHL Draft on Friday night, and that he told Milstein, “just let [Panarin] know that I love him.”

Panarin, like most of the Blackhawks, had a very quiet postseason. After recording seven points against the St. Louis Blues, Panarin had just one assist in four games against the Nashville Predators. Not long after the playoffs Panarin was interviewed in Russian. One of the quotes, translated into English, read, “I was not in the best shape and didn’t have enough strength” for the playoffs. Milstein didn’t believe that was an accurate translation.

“If you know Panarin, in his native tongue he’s very funny. If you use a translator, sometimes it takes things out of context. But I don’t believe that’s what he meant,” Milstein said. “He put a good [regular] season together, a fair season, but the performance in the playoffs, obviously, he was disappointed. He was frustrated with his performance.”

Milstein said Panarin will probably head to Columbus in a few weeks; he’s currently waiting on visa issues. Panarin’s time in Chicago was shorter than most thought it would be but his agent said he’s ready for the next challenge.

“Artemi is looking forward to coming here,” said Milstein, who was in Columbus on Monday. “This will be a good opportunity to shine.”

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

Blackhawks ink Anton Forsberg, Tomas Jurco

When the Blackhawks traded to get Brandon Saad back, they also acquired Anton Forsberg, who they believe is ready to be their latest backup goaltender. On Monday they signed him to a two-year deal.

The Blackhawks inked two players on Monday, Forsberg, whose contract runs through the 2018-19 season, and Tomas Jurco, who agreed to a one-year contract extension.

Forsberg joins the Blackhawks having very little NHL experience – he’s played 10 career games at this level, going 1-8-0. But the Blackhawks’ previous two backup goaltenders, Antti Raanta and Scott Darling, hadn’t made an NHL appearance before joining the Blackhawks. Forsberg led the Cleveland Monsters, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL-affiliate team, to a Calder Cup title in 2016; during that run he went 9-0 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .949 save percentage.

On Friday, when the Blackhawks acquired Saad and Forsberg from Columbus for Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte, general manager Stan Bowman said the team is, “optimistic about Anton’s potential.”

“We like his profile as a goalie,” he said. “He’s a big guy, takes up a lot of net, has that mobility and makes good positional saves as well as athletic saves. A year ago, led his team to the [Calder] Cup championships, so he knows what it’s like to put a team on his back. It was the AHL but he’s had a lot of success there. He’s earned the right to be an NHL goalie.”

Jurco, acquired by the Blackhawks from Detroit in February, played 13 games with them down the regular-season stretch. Bowman said shortly after the trade that Jurco would get a chance here.

“We’ll be patient with him but we really think there’s a good fit there, looking at his skills and the style of hockey we play,” he said. “I think a lot of ways, sometimes guys need different opportunities. It doesn’t work out in every place. A fresh start will be great for Tomas.”