I don’t know if there is any science behind it, but there is something that makes me feel it in my gut, like a trembling and grumbling of emotions, whenever a player gets to score their first career NHL goal. Maybe it’s the elation his teammates have for them, or just the pure joy that explodes off their face the second they see the puck cross the goal line, making a dream that has been decades in the making a reality. Either way, it is something that is so special and makes me have a dumb grin on my face when I get to watch it.
Last night, Mason Shaw was able to finally hit that milestone five years after the Minnesota Wild drafted him in the fourth round and against the divisional rival Chicago Blackhawks. Everything was building up to this moment.
After the goal it looks like teammate Connor Dewar is happier for Shaw to score his first career goal than the scorer himself, and there’s reason behind it.
“He’s worked so hard,” Dewar said. “He’s been through so much with his surgeries and his rehabs. He’s a very mentally strong person, and he definitely earned that. It wasn’t given to him, so I’m very proud of him.”
At 23 years old, Shaw has already experienced three ACL tears, and as Dewar mentioned after the game, months of recovery after going under the knife to just get back to playing hockey again. Now, he’s here in the NHL and has hit a career milestone while playing next to someone he’s become very good friends with.
“I mean, that’s years in the making,” Shaw said. “That’s one of my best friends now. You go through a lot of stuff with a guy like that to get to this point. It’s something you talk about, and for him to be a part of that goal, be the first one there and the hugs after, it was a special moment for me, that’s for sure.”
Dewar and Shaw have been by each other’s sides since the 2019-20 season when the former made his professional debut, and the latter was spending his sophomore season trying to push a little bit harder. Unfortunately, that is also the season where Shaw was able to play just 17 games due to injury and that must have formed an immediate bond for the two young up-and-comers.
They both got to make their NHL debuts in the same season and now, they’re forming an important force in the Wild’s bottom-six that is earning the team some wins a season later.
This wasn’t necessarily supposed to happen, either. Shaw was sent down through waivers and reassigned to the AHL, named Iowa’s captain for the season, and was most likely going to only be called up in case of injuries. Well, here we are and with Jordan Greenway’s return lasting only one game and suddenly some more injuries arising for Marcus Foligno and potentially Ryan Hartman, Shaw has an important role to fill. Now he’s scoring goals and just looking so damn powerful while doing it.
While he might not be that top-of-the-lineup forward or someone that will be on your fantasy hockey team, Shaw can carve out a role in Minnesota as someone that is so reliable and can play on the fourth line of a very, very good Wild team. Both him and Dewar should be here for a very long time and score more and more goals together.
Unfortunately, the reality is that Shaw might be sent back to Des Moines once players return from their ailments, just because with him passing through waivers earlier, they have a limited amount of time (maximum of 30 days or 10 NHL games played) where he can be reassigned without having to pass through them again. And we know teams will be sniffing around more because of what he has been able to do in the big leagues this season.
Let’s ignore that for now and just focus on the journey that Shaw has taken to get to this point and enjoy his little tenacious ferocity on the ice, for now.