Below is a transcript of a portion of the latest Blackhawks Insider podcast featuring a Q&A with Blackhawks Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman. To hear the full Q&A and episode, click here.
Who was the scout on Andrew Shaw
? And does that guy get a raise? --Daniel Beckman, Boulder, Colo.
SB: It’s amazing, what’s happened here with Andrew. We actually had a discussion earlier today about how far he’s come—he wasn’t even on an NHL contract until around Christmastime. He was in the American Hockey League on an AHL deal, and we decided to switch him over with the thinking that he’d played really well in Rockford the first few months and we might want to utilize him in the second half of the year. In order to do that, you have to be on an NHL contract. So we converted his deal to an NHL deal, and here we are. He’s got 11 goals in around 30 games and he’s been a real difference-maker.
I give credit to our entire staff. [Director of Amateur Scouting] Mark Kelley’s done a great job of coordinating that effort. Sometimes it takes a certain eye for a player who maybe was overlooked by a lot of people. You think, situationally he’s got a lot of attributes, which could help us out.
Hats off to the whole staff… Looking back at our draft from last year alone, Brandon Saad has probably been the most dominant player in the Ontario Hockey League this year, and he was a second-round pick. We got [Mark] McNeill and [Phillip] Danault in the first round, Shaw’s already playing and some other guys throughout [our system] have had really good seasons. We’re not even one year removed from that draft and it’s looking excellent already.
Blackhawks Insider: Andrew Shaw is a guy who was passed over by every team in two drafts. At that point, going into his third draft, it seems like he might be damaged goods, and some teams probably just write him off without paying attention to the year he had. But the Blackhawks didn’t do that; in fact, they did pay specific attention to him, and it obviously ended up paying off.
SB: Yes, that’s accurate. I think everyone else felt the same way, that there’s just not enough there. But we looked at it a little bit differently; we felt he had improved over time. And that’s the thing—players do change. You can’t forever banish a player who had a bad season. Maybe some guys develop a little bit later on, and you have to be willing to consider that what you thought before has changed. I give our staff credit for that.
Stan, thank you for the awesome trade for [Johnny] Oduya... I was wondering how the trade came to be since us fans don't get to know what happens behind the scenes as GMs talk trades.
--Alex Tomsyck, Machesney Park, Ill.
Mr. Bowman, Johnny-O has had a very positive impact on the Hawks' team game. What specifically in his style of play did you see during the time he spent in New Jersey and Atlanta that you noticed and liked most?
--Mak Koten, Lincoln, Nebr.
SB: He’s got some experience and he’s played in some very good organizations. Playing for the Devils, who have been a very good team for a number of years, he’s learned how to play hockey the right way. By that, I mean he knows how to defend, he understands positionally where to be and he uses his head to outsmart people—he’s obviously not a really big guy, so in order to win those battles in the corner he’s got to be positionally sound. He has a very good stick, and that’s some of the things he learned in the New Jersey system.
He’s an excellent skater. He has a lot of patience with the puck. He’s very composed under pressure, which is really hard to do when you’ve got guys bearing down on you. It’s really easy to just unload the puck and whip it around the boards, and often, when you do that, it’s a turnover. He’s very good at holding on until the last minute and then making a direct play, as opposed to giving the puck away.
That fits into the way we play; we like to hold onto the puck. Once we get it, we want to keep it and we don’t like to give it away. His skating ability has been very noticeable with our team, he’s made a lot of nice passes and he’s joined the rush. He scored a big goal in the Rangers game and he’s also made some nice plays and assisted on some goals as well. That style is something that really complements what we already have here.
In terms of the trade in particular, [the scouting staff] had met earlier in the season about players who were potentially going to be available, and based on contract status, he was one of those upcoming free agents. At that time, you try to categorize guys and you follow them. We had scouts go watch him in the previous months and report back what they liked about his game. And then you start to follow him more closely the closer you get to the deadline.