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  • Mason Shaw Kicked Ass


    Image courtesy of Brace Hemmelgam-USA Today Sports
    Tony Abbott

    Unless you're a huge Yakov Trenin fan, the Minnesota Wild haven't made many headlines during this NHL offseason. Without making a hyped trade for someone like Patrik Laine or even Rutger McGroarty, the Wild had to settle with using their limited cap space to address issues at the margins. 

    While the team added Trenin, Jakub Lauko, and an array of two-way options, including Devin Shore and Travis Boyd, they haven't had that many departures. The most expensive player to go out the door was Alex Goligoski, with a salary of just $2 million. It feels like there are only very minor departures, and in some ways, that's true.

    However, Mason Shaw's departure will leave one big hole in the locker room. The fourth-line winger hopped over the US-Canada border to sign with the Winnipeg Jets last week, giving their rivals to the North one hell of a spark plug.

    There's just no other way to say it: Mason Shaw kicked ass, and following the Wild is going to be a little less fun without him. That's maybe a weird thing to say about a player who played just 82 games in a Wild sweater, but Shaw poured as much of himself into the organization as players who were able to stick in St. Paul for years. 

    Shaw's odds were always longer than everyone else's to make the NHL. As a five-foot-nine fourth-round pick in 2017, it's hard to be on anyone's radar, especially after having recovered from a torn ACL in junior. But Shaw did what he's always done: work hard. It didn't matter that he tore another ACL at a prospect tournament months after the Wild drafted him. He rehabbed, he returned, and the Iowa Wild signed him to an Amateur Tryout, where he impressed the staff in Des Moines.

    Shaw had one more torn knee before he could take his final form in Iowa, but once he grabbed a foothold, he refused to let go. During the 2020-21 season, coach Tim Army named him an alternate captain, and he scored eight goals and 22 points in 30 games. In 2021-22, he scored 19 goals and 52 points for Iowa, both ranking third on the team.

    The following year, he was named the Iowa Wild's captain. As a 23-year-old. That's nearly unheard of in the AHL, but Army said it wasn't even a question. "Mason was the right guy for it," he recalled in 2023.

    Or, he would have been had the Wild not decided he was the right guy for their fourth line. Shaw played just two games in Iowa before graduating to the Wild, where he didn't look back. In 59 games, Shaw scored seven goals and 17 points, playing on the penalty kill, engaging physically, and playing a max-effort game every night. 

    Then came the heartbreaker of heartbreakers, his fourth ACL tear in March of 2023. Some players would've quit the game two ACLs ago, but did it stop Shaw? Hell no, it didn't. Maybe it's a Been There, Done That mentality. Still, you're never going to see a player on crutches giving his team the energy and spark Shaw did doing a Let's Play Hockey chant before Game 3 of Minnesota's playoff series against Dallas.

    You know this guy wants to play hockey with every fiber of his being because he's put himself through four grueling rehabs and could easily fall back on a career as a ring announcer. This moment sends chills up your spine.

    And yeah, you know how this story ends by now. After nine games with the Iowa Wild, Shaw returned and proved he was ready to rejoin Minnesota for their playoff push. The Wild fell short and largely appeared demoralized, but you could always count on No. 15 not to take anything for granted. He scored just one goal and two assists in 20 games, but Shaw delivered in a season where fans needed some feel-good moments. 

    It'd be a marvel to see Shaw playing as well and as hard as he did on one knee. After four surgeries, that count is closer to negative two knees. It doesn't matter, though, as he's a high-end defensive fourth-liner, has flashed some penalty kill brilliance, and brings so much energy and grit to a lineup despite his small frame. It's also fair to think he has more offense to give than we've seen so far, given how rarely he's played at 100%. 

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    The Wild might have moved on from Shaw, and the Jets may only have offered him a two-way deal, meaning he hasn't guaranteed a spot in Winnipeg. But don't expect Shaw to stick with the Manitoba Moose. If his defensive acumen and hustle aren't going to get him to stick with Winnipeg, it'll be how great of a teammate he is. 

    "He's in the middle of everything," Army said in 2023. "He's an infectious personality, and he's highly engaging... He looks out for guys... [and] guys want to follow him." There's not a locker room in the league that shouldn't want someone like Shaw in there.

    It's hard to say anything else except: It kicked ass to watch Shaw pour his heart and soul into this organization. Here's hoping he gets another decade in the league.

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    Definitely appreciated Shaw's effort/energy and toughness. Hope he has better health for the remainder of his career.

    I haven't seen it reported elsewhere, but just saw The Wild are signing defenseman Declan Chisholm to a one-year contract worth $1 million.

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    In other news there is an athletic article Wild coach John Hynes on player ‘check-ins’ and setting expectations: ‘Comes down to action’. I was able to read it via NYTimes. Not a bad offseason read, talks about setting expectations, what he wants to see from camp and offseason meetings. While it may all be coach speak and lip service I liked what I was reading. There are no set lines or roster spots, those have to be earned. Who will step up to play with the likes of Kap and Ek. Also talk about how guys like Ohgren and Khus impressed last year but need to show up and do it again, but have the same chance as anyone else to make the opening roster.

    I really hope this is more than coach speak, holding guys accountable, making every single player earn a spot. Stated several times on how "players need to be better" mentioned specifically in fitness, commitment, and mindset. If this is the mindset of the coach and actually holds players to these standards, I for one would be happy. Maybe we will see that fire and passion throughout the lineup, a hungry team out there fighting for playing time and competing.  

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    5 minutes ago, IllicitFive said:

    In other news there is an athletic article Wild coach John Hynes on player ‘check-ins’ and setting expectations: ‘Comes down to action’. I was able to read it via NYTimes. Not a bad offseason read, talks about setting expectations, what he wants to see from camp and offseason meetings. While it may all be coach speak and lip service I liked what I was reading. There are no set lines or roster spots, those have to be earned. Who will step up to play with the likes of Kap and Ek. Also talk about how guys like Ohgren and Khus impressed last year but need to show up and do it again, but have the same chance as anyone else to make the opening roster.

    I really hope this is more than coach speak, holding guys accountable, making every single player earn a spot. Stated several times on how "players need to be better" mentioned specifically in fitness, commitment, and mindset. If this is the mindset of the coach and actually holds players to these standards, I for one would be happy. Maybe we will see that fire and passion throughout the lineup, a hungry team out there fighting for playing time and competing.  

    He also mentioned Freddie, NoJo and Hartman specifically. I got the feeling that he was harder on Hartman than the others. Perhaps his expectations are higher, particularly mentioning conditioning. I got the felling that the other two are safe if they put forth the needed effort, as it should be. Itv was a good article.

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    I had a different response to that article. Grit, identity, bounce back seasons to address secondary scoring. Buy-in, communication, identity. Zucc/Hartman/Kap; Boldy/Ek/Jojo. Rossi, Ohgren, and Marat showed a little… have to come in and earn a spot. It was kind of gross, actually.

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    15 minutes ago, Krotz the Wall said:

    I had a different response to that article. Grit, identity, bounce back seasons to address secondary scoring. Buy-in, communication, identity. Zucc/Hartman/Kap; Boldy/Ek/Jojo. Rossi, Ohgren, and Marat showed a little… have to come in and earn a spot. It was kind of gross, actually.

    Oh I read it as those COULD be line but nothing is in stone, could see Zucc and Kap reunite to spark secondary scoring. All depends who shows up. But yes, if they have to earn a spot that is a good thing, NHL roster spots should be earned, period, crrates internal competition, iron sharpens iron. 

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    As a tribute to the man, the myth, the legend I'm going to refer to the Wild's 4th line as the Shawzy line this season

    Raska showed some flashes of being an effective 4th line cement head and he's re-signed for peanuts (this is how to fill out a 4th line Guerin).  So let's imagine this trio: 

    Lauko + T-Bag + Raska

    (SHAWZY line.  alternate name: Cement Head Line)

    That's a 4th line that will steal minutes from our 3rd line as the season progresses due to their 'hard to play against' style.

    Foligno + Fred Evason + Nojo will be able to take alot of waterbreaks while watching the Cement Heads take their TOI.

    Edited by Pewterschmidt
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