The Chicago Blackhawks have traded forward Andrew Shaw to the Montreal Canadiens exchange for the No. 39 and No. 45 picks in the 2016 NHL Draft, the team announced Friday night. Shaw is set to become a restricted free agent on July 1 and reportedly had contract demands the Hawks couldn't possibly meet.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Lazerus, Shaw wanted at least $4.5 million annually in talks with Chicago. That's a price point GM Stan Bowman couldn't really work with given that the team presently doesn't even have $3 million in salary cap space. The team appeared to float the possibility of moving Marcus Kruger in order to free up money, but ultimately opted to just deal Shaw instead.
Shaw, who turns 25 in July, has spent the past four-plus seasons with the Hawks. He recorded 14 goals and a career-high 20 assists in 78 regular season games with the team last season. Back in 2013-14, he had his best scoring year with 20 goals and 39 points in 80 games.
A skilled energy forward who can skate into tough areas, win puck battles and make the occasional high-skill play, Shaw was a crucial piece to Chicago. His versatility, not only as a center or wing but in playing more offensive-minded or defensive-minded roles, made him a favorite of coach Joel Quenneville. As Q said after the season, Shaw was "irreplaceable."
But in the end, that kind of sentiment only goes so far when you're operating under a salary cap, and the Hawks just couldn't justify committing too much to Shaw. So now he's off to Montreal and the Hawks get some assets to continue re-shaping the roster for the future.
In the meantime, Chicago could very much use some help in the bottom-six, and it'll be interesting to see how Bowman weighs that with the pursuit of another defenseman. Brian Campbell has been rumored as a possible target and his addition could significantly improve the team's situation on the back end. However, a lineup without Shaw looks loaded with rookie forwards at the moment, so expect the team to at least pursue a low-cost veteran or two to compete for playing time there.
The Hawks now have 10 picks in this year's draft. They could use some of those picks to trade up or possibly pursue some pieces for next season's roster.