BUFFALO, N.Y. – Andrew Shaw had to wait until his third go-around in the NHL Draft before he was selected by the Blackhawks. Two Stanley Cups later, he became a big part of this group.
Like several before him, he said he wanted to stay here. Like several before him, cap issues probably prevented that from happening.
Shaw was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for two second-round selections, as the NHL Draft began on Friday. Shaw was going to become a restricted free agent next Friday. And while both sides said they hoped to find a deal to keep Shaw in Chicago, that deal didn’t come.
The Blackhawks get two second-round picks, the 39th and 45th overall selections, in this draft. That now gives them 10 selections in this draft, which continues with Rounds 2-7 on Saturday.
General manager Stan Bowman didn’t say how close or how far away the Blackhawks and Shaw’s camp were regarding a potential new deal.
“It’s a very tough day, a difficult decision to make,” Bowman said following Round 1. “We love Andrew, everything he’s brought to the Blackhawks. We certainly want to thank him for some incredible hockey. He’s been the ultimate warrior for us and we certainly wish him well. It was a very difficult decision and these are the hard ones to make. It was a tough phone call. But we absolutely wish him the best and we’re trying to look forward.”
The salary cap will be $73 million this season, just $1.6 million more than 2015-16. Asked if that minimal cap hike sealed Shaw’s fate, Bowman said, “I don’t know how to handicap that. It was really just something we worked at as much as we could and you have to make tough decisions sometimes and this was one of those.”
A Shaw re-signing seemed more likely after Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen were traded, freeing up more than $4 million in cap space. Instead, the Blackhawks send him to Montreal and bulk up their draft selections. What Shaw gets from the Canadiens remains to be seen but both Pierre LeBrun and Elliotte Friedman report that Shaw should get a new deal relatively soon.
As for the Blackhawks, not signing Shaw gives them breathing room. That’s good now and it could prove more important later, especially if the Blackhawks find a way to sign Artemi Panarin long term.
“We have enough cap room now,” Bowman said. “Whether we make moves to make moves remains to be seen but we don’t have a salary-cap problem.”
Cap space is what the Blackhawks saved. But it’s another loss to their roster, another player going elsewhere due to salary-cap issues. Bowman said the Blackhawks are moving forward. But they’ve lost a lot in the process. Shaw is the latest.
“We’re trying to make this situation the best we can with the salary cap and we’re here at the draft and we’re looking for the future. We’re trying to build our team for many years to come. So there’s always that balance between the current team and also the future,” Bowman said. “And in order to have future Blackhawks coming through you have to sometimes make tough decisions. And that’s how it went.”