Andrew Shaw. Where to start.
This kid was floating around the 3rd and fourth line last year for the Niagara Ice Dogs, clocking in at a whopping 165 lbs standing at 5'11''. Yet, the now 18 year old Shaw has worked hard in the off season, toning up to 175 lbs and proving his ability not only to agitate on the ice, but be a value to the IceDogs power play and top scoring lines.
Shaw is a kid with heart, and it shows in his play. This year there has been a noticeable change in his skill level. He has been winning battles to the puck in the corners, and showing his speed by keeping up and fitting in well with the IceDogs top-line forwards, making his number 15 known on the ice game after game.
His physical play has only gotten better. Finishing checks (like the one with 2 seconds remaining in the Saginaw game, absolutely flatting one of their forwards), and still following in the footsteps of his father by backing down to absolutely no one in the fight department. This kid will take on any enforcer despite any weight difference, and usually has his way with them. His fighting style reminds me of Wendel Clark's - going in throwing, while at the same time standing his ground, and able to switch-up to a powerful left. Not to mention he can ragdoll guys who have a significant weight advantage on him. After the fight, he is always good to get his bench going and keep a smile on his face, without show boating.
Shaw's fight against Saginaw's Garret Ross on Thursday Nov. 12 was featured on Sportsnet Connected's top ten fights of the week.
The Bellville native has some hands on him too - showing his dangling ability several times this year (i've witnessed a few dandy toe drags and splits of the D), and getting shots on net. One game I recorded at least 6 or 7 shots on net, and Coach McCourt obviously see's these improvements as well, as he gives the young centre a lot more time on the ice.
With 2 goals, 9 assists, and 49 penalty minutes on the season, the IceDog forward was just bumped to 6th on the team in scoring, as Reggie Traccitto has been on a hot streak over the past few games, and now has 4 goals and 8 assists.
Look for Shaw to keep this play up for the rest of the season, recording more points and have more Top ten worthy tillies. Although Shaw is on the smaller side, he is making a great case that he could be an interested for an NHL draft pick in the future. His work ethic is there, and he definitely has the ability to bulk up and fill out that 5'11'' frame. Johnson Andrews used to weigh in at 180 in his career with the Thorold Blackhawks, and is now 205.
If Shawsie keeps up his stellar play and shows his grit, he could be a key part in the IceDogs future, and I am willing to vogue that he could one day make a solid draft pick for an NHL team. Hell, I'd take him any day to fit in my favourite team on the 4th line of the San Jose Sharks. He reminds me of a Brad Staubitz, but with a bit more hockey sense.
I'll be keeping an eye on Shaw this year, and I look forward to seeing what else he can bring to the table in the ladder half of the season.
Watch out for Shaw.
- Jeff Blay