Welcome to this year’s Top 25 Under 25 series. If you’re unfamiliar, we’re going player-by-player in a ranking of the top 25 Minnesota Wild players that are under the age of 25. It’s fairly simple. Enjoy!
Ever since he was drafted in 2017, Mason Shaw has had an interesting start to his career. Quickly graduating from the WHL and being thrown full-time into an Iowa Wild team that had those common depth names you’ve come to love — Gerry Mayhew, Kyle Rau, Cal O’Reilly — Shaw used the opportunity of those veterans leaving town to his advantage.
Unfortunately, the pandemic kind of ruined the traditional trajectory of a player like Shaw. His second professional season was put to a stop, his third was a shortened campaign that didn’t really tell us anything, and finally, in his fourth just last year, he burst on to the scene as a decent enough player to earn his NHL debut.
Although just last year we voted him to be at No. 17 of our Top 25 Under 25, his projection never really changed, it’s just the Wild’s depth and prospect pool getting so damn good that he has slipped down to the very bottom of the list. He will keep on being a gutsy player and might end up being a somewhat strong NHLer one day, but compared to the other players on this list, the ceiling is just not as high.
We do still love Shawsy.
Shaw has seen an offensive explosion in his last two seasons. Just last year he was approaching a point-per-game in the weird and shortened AHL season and he continued on that trajectory after scoring 19 goals and 52 points in 62 games in 2021-22. As one of the top forwards in Iowa this season, Shaw just kept on producing and scoring when it mattered. He was able to take more of an opportunity and turn it into something along with his similarly aged forward peers.
Connor Dewar, Mitchell Chaffee, and Nick Swaney has led this second-tier of solid and young depth forwards to bolster the top-end of the future roster. Shaw will certainly be among the names considered as more older players start to disappear and this trajectory should only continue further as more junior players start to graduate and turn professional.
In a little bit of flourish for Shaw, he also posted 106 penalty minutes this season, with only veteran gritty winger Cody McLeod earning more for the AHL Wild. He has this edge to him that is uncommon in players under 6-feet tall, and he has it in spades. Hell, in the three games he played in the NHL this season — including his debut — he had a fight. It didn’t go so well, but that’s a dude right there.
Roll the Tape
I don’t know if it’s just the highlights that I was able to find through a quick online search, but it seems that Shaw just loves to pepper the opposing goaltender with mid-range attempts. And some of them go in after a little bit of a paused to set it up.
Even his third goal of a hat trick was a wild turnaround shove of a shot from the blue line that somehow was the weirdest last-minute goal to earn his team a win.
And as mentioned before, Shaw loves himself a good fight that involves him throwing just rapid jabs after throwing his opponent a little off balance.
Canes prospect Jamieson Rees vs Mason Shaw pic.twitter.com/Pc59CkmHRV— Alex Ohári ⚫️ (@FutureCanes) April 10, 2021
If we were going to try to include the highlights that makes Shaw the player that he is and could be, it would just be one of those long videos that involve edited-in circles and slow-downs to focus on how well he forechecks or uses his stick to try and prevent zone exits or whatever. He is one of those dudes and that’s fine, we just don’t have the wherewithal to go through that effort and have that deep-dive into all his little quirks on the ice.
Shaw’s future with the Wild is a little muddled. As mentioned earlier, he is certainly in the thick of it with a bunch of players that would be in a similar role. Dewar can maybe be more of a contributor than his other peers, but Brandon Duhaime in addition with Chaffee, Swaney — and even someone like Tyson Jost, to be honest — are all fighting for the spot that Shaw hopes to be in within a season or two.
It’s that bottom-six winger slot that can provide some physicality but also some sense of a scoring touch. Shaw’s production this season might put him above the rest, and he might even end up being a surprise graduate at the end of training camp next month, a la Duhaime last season. It certainly wouldn’t be completely out of nowhere. The difference between Shaw and the pairing of Swaney and Chaffee is that the former isn’t waiver exempt this season and if he plays any games in the NHL this season, he will need to clear waivers which seems like just asking him to leave Minnesota.
The long-term future is a little bit of a different beast. It will take some more development to think about him as a part of this team for a longer time, as these types of prospects are certainly more common than not. There is something about the pesky kid from Lloydminster, Alta. that makes you cheer him on and hope he sticks around.
Hockey Wilderness 2022 Top 25 Under 25
25. Mason Shaw