It was hard to watch Mason Shaw — generously listed 5’9″ — and not conjure images of Brendan Gallagher in his draft season. He’s one of the meanest bastards in the entire draft, and he doesn’t let maiming opponents impede his ability to produce offence or contribute to his team’s two-way solvency at even strength.
Playing in his second full season with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Shaw centred a highly effective first line on one of the WHL’s best, most productive teams. And yet the industry consensus of Shaw seems to suggest he could fall as far as the third round of the NHL draft.
Another short player with serious offensive bona fides undervalued in the realm of draft analysis? Maybe elsewhere, but not at Canucks Army. It should come as no surprise then that Shaw checks in as the 33rd ranked prospect in the Nation Network consensus rankings.
- Age: 18-years-old, 1999-11-03
- Birthplace: Wainwright, Alberta, Canada
- Position: C
- Handedness: L
- Height: 5’9″
- Weight: 181 lbs
- Draft Year Team: Medicine Hat Tigers
|NHL (CSS)||FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS||HOCKEYPROSPECT||MCKENZIE||MCKEEN’S
A little ball of energy who does not mind getting his nose dirty…possesses quick feet and the right hard-working attitude…always moving his feet and outworking the opposition, and is relentless in his puck pursuing…never gives up on battles and displays impressive creativity and offensive instincts…moves the puck exceptionally well, and makes accurate reads with good, quick decision making…plays with a chip on his shoulder and can be a little prick to play against…a menace who doesn’t let his size factor into him running his mouth and giving a jab after the play…controls the puck very well and uses his motor and strong balance to keep pushing through gritty areas of the ice…displays a fairly sharp wrist shot and a very impressive back hander that is both accurate and off his stick in a jiffy making him dangerous in close… defends using an active stick and good positioning to pressure opponents…a high energy, high compete guy, that loves to throw the body around and plays with offensive skills similar to a Brendan Gallagher. (November 2016)
Shaw was one of the top playmakers in the CHL this season. I was really impressed by him at the under-18 world championship in North Dakota last year as well. Shaw has high-end puck skills, great vision and makes quick decisions with the puck. Shaw has a pass-first mentality to his game and is often the starting point of offense for Medicine Hat. His foot speed has gotten a little better this season, but it’s not a selling point, particularly for a 5-foot-9 player. He’s got shifty feet though and can make a defender miss, but doesn’t blow down the outside lane very well. He also works hard to win battles and can succeed as much as you hope for at his height. He’s surprisingly decent defensively, too, especially on the penalty kill.
A late 1998 birthdate, Mason Shaw had an absolutely huge season with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He scored 27 goals and 94 points in 71 games. He tied for 7th in WHL scoring with fellow 2017 draft prospect Cody Glass. Shaw also added 12 points in 11 playoff games, but the Tigers fell in the the second round. They lost to the Lethbridge Hurricanes in seven games.
Shaw’s really coming out party came the previous year though. At the 2016 IIHF Under 18 World Championships, he scored seven points in seven games for Canada. The previous year he played for Canada Red at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.
Playmaking two-way center with a strong feel for the game who simply knows what to do with the puck on his stick. Shaw is undersized from a physical standpoint, but his heart and effort quickly make you forget he’s under six feet tall. Shaw is an elite passer and phenomenal stickhandler who uses quick movements within tight spaces to earn enough time to carve up a congested zone. He plays with bite and is one of the draft’s better options to bolster a power play. Shaw, who led all first-year CHL draft eligibles in assists (67) and primary assists (43), isn’t a fast skater but his edges and balance are strong enough to keep him on his feet while maintaining full control of the puck. Always looking to attack, Shaw can thread the needle from distances well over the dimensions of a specific zone. His shot is accurate and deceptively quick, and uses a variety of ways to score. Nevertheless, he’s a pass-first center who will defer to a set-up rather than take a low percentage shot.
Honestly, I can’t believe we’re still having discussions about players producing significantly over a point per game in their draft season as someone who might be lucky enough to go in the second round because of concerns centred around their height. If Shaw were three inches taller, we’re discussing as a sure-fire mid-first round pick.
No matter how you slice it, Shaw’s season was among the best offensively among first-time draft eligible forwards from the major junior ranks. At five-on-five, he produced primary points and points at the second-highest per sixty minutes rate in the entire WHL. In the CHL, only Cody Glass’ 63 five-on-five points best Shaw who produce 61 of his own.
The one point of contention when it comes to Shaw’s quantitative plaudits is that he’s almost a full year older than some of the players in his class, as he’s less than two months removed from the 2016 draft. That’s worthwhile context, but it doesn’t take the shine off Shaw’s production.
When Shaw’s draft campaign is viewed through the lens of SEAL (secondary assist, era, age and league) adjusted scoring, he ranks seventh among first-time draft eligible major junior players from the 2017 class. In fact, Shaw’s ranked just one spot higher than presumptive top-two pick, Nolan Patrick.
I’m not suggesting Shaw’s slightly advanced age didn’t have an impact on his scoring. I just don’t think it invalidates it either. A year ago, Shaw tallied 60 points (17 goals and 43 assists) in 67 games and was a point per game player at the Under 18 World Hockey Championship as a 17-year-old.
I tend to think of Shaw as a fairly well-rounded centre, but his stat line obviously lends itself to the playmaker descriptor — he was over a point per game player in 12 playoff games without scoring once.
It’s not just that Shaw has high-end vision or the ability to read plays as they develop in flight. He’s not afraid to distribute from the ugliest parts of the ice, and take a beating to make sure he’s put his teammate in the best position to score. Rare is the pass Shaw can’t complete, and he’s not shy about threading the needle through multiple defenders at a time to prove as much.
The common refrain from the draft analysis community is that Shaw’s skating could use work, but I’m not as convinced of that as an issue. I see a player with an adequate first two-steps and a good top gear. He’s not a burner, but he gets around the ice just fine.
Shaw’s attention to detail at both ends of the ice will lend itself well to a transition to professional hockey. I see a player who should, at the very least, be able to carve out a checking role. Yes, in spite of his frame. That’s his career assignment through pGPS, too.
When we view Shaw’s season through pGPS, 25 of the 66 players in his cohort developed into full-time NHL players, good for an expected success mark of 34.4%. The expected production per 82 games is 44.8 points, which is what one can reasonably hope for from a second line centre.
I see a player with significant offensive upside in Shaw. If I’m a team picking in the early parts of the second round, I exploit the market inefficiency between his talent and industry consensus. It’s the kind of low-risk-high-reward play that contending teams are built upon.