Less than 24 hours before NHL free agency opens, the Blackhawks announced Sunday that they have reacquired forward Andrew Shaw from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for three draft picks: a second- and seventh-rounder in 2020 and third-rounder in 2021. The Blackhawks also received a seventh-rounder in 2021.
Shaw has three years remaining on his contract that carries a $3.9 million cap hit. No salary was retained.
"I’m excited to come back to Chicago," Shaw said on a Sunday night conference call after finding out about the trade while taking off from Chicago to Toronto. "The city where I grew up, helped mold me to who I am. It’s a blue-collar type of town and they’ve loved me since the day I started there. I’m excited to get back and play in front of them and give them everything I have.
"I've always thought of coming back. It was a home to me. I lived there for five amazing years. Fell in love with my wife there, I fell in love with the city, fell in love with hockey even more. So I'm glad to be back, glad to be part of it again."
The Blackhawks have made it a priority this summer to add some grind to their roster, and Shaw certainly fits that bill. He can play on any of the four lines, has experience playing both center and wing and can provide some net-front presence the team has lacked over the years.
"[When] people talk about Shaw, they always talk about his intensity and competitiveness," GM Stan Bowman said. "But he does go to the net and he does score a lot of his goals from in tight and he gets a lot of shots from around the net and that's where you need to be if you want to score in today's game. I think it's something we probably weren't as strong as last year as we had hoped. We did score a lot of highlight type goals and a lot of transition goals and I think Andrew can help us score some of the other goals that you need if you're going to be competitive come playoff time and that's getting to the front of the net, staying there, second-chance opportunities. He brings those type of things."
Shaw spent his first five NHL seasons in Chicago, where he helped the Blackhawks win two Stanley Cups in 2013 and 2015. He compiled 137 points (70 goals, 67 assists) in 322 regular-season games with the Blackhawks from 2012-16, and added 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists) in 67 playoff games.
The Blackhawks traded Shaw's negotiating rights to the Canadiens in June of 2016 for two second-round picks. One of those picks was used to take defenseman Chad Krys at No. 45 overall. The other? Alex DeBrincat at No. 39 overall.
Despite the trade, Shaw has stayed in touch with his former teammates — some even attended his wedding in 2017. And when he was reacquired on Sunday, Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews were among those who reached out expressing their excitement about his return to Chicago.
"It’s nice to hear from the boys and know that they’re excited to have me back," Shaw said. "It’s been a crazy journey but I’m excited to keep pushing forward and go to war every night with those guys."
Shaw is coming off a season in which he set a career-high in assists (28), points (47) and average time on ice (15:55) in 63 games with the Canadiens. He also had strong possession metrics at 5-on-5, most notably a plus-20 goal differential.
With the trade, the Blackhawks now have a projected $8.036 million in cap space to work with when Monday’s signing period opens, according to Cap Friendly. But that doesn't include David Kampf, who's an unrestricted free agent after he reportedly did not receive a qualifying offer (likely because of his arbitration eligibility) yet is still looking to re-sign, Dominik Kubalik, who's expected to be on the Opening Day roster, and Brendan Perlini, who remains unsigned as a restricted free agent. Bowman said he's confident that Kampf will re-sign and said there shouldn't be any issues doing the same with Perlini even though his situation isn't as urgent because of his RFA status.
Expect the Blackhawks to fill out their remaining roster spots with depth players, and that could come in the form of internal competition but also externally via free agency.
"We're still talking to some free agents," Bowman said. "We've been busy over the past several days like most teams have been. Until you get there you're not positive how it's all going to shake out. ... This doesn't rule anything out. I think we're still gonna make some calls and follow through on some conversations that we've had. This is the time where you're going to make additions to your team, it's over the next few weeks or months and then at that point things tend to even out and that's your team. If we can add a player or two, we won't be hesitant to do that."