Mason Shaw slowing becoming an NHL regular for Wild this season

CHICAGO — Many hockey fans know Mason Shaw’s story by now.

After being selected by the Wild in the 2017 NHL Draft, he suffered three separate knee injuries as he started his professional career. The 23-year-old still managed to work his way to the highest level, making his NHL debut last season when he got onto the ice during a Dec. 9 game against the San Jose Sharks.

Though he spent most of his time in the minors last season, Shaw is slowly becoming an NHL regular this season. He was back in the Wild lineup for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, marking his third consecutive game on the current road trip.

“I’m definitely as comfortable as I’ve ever been around this group,” Shaw said. “To get a few games in a row is big. I think my confidence grows every day I’m around here. There’s certainly a little bit more familiarity. But I know there’s never time to take my foot off the gas.”

Asked about Shaw earlier this week, coach Dean Evason heaped praise. He loves what the 5-foot-10, 185-pound winger brings to the bottom half of the lineup.

“He’s just going to play hard, right?” Evason said. He’s not the biggest guy in the world, and we would never know it because he gets his nose dirty every shift.”

Shaw is currently playing alongside Connor Dewar and opposite Sam Steel. Together they enjoy making life miserable on opposing teams.

“That’s my game,” Shaw said. “That’s how I’ve got to this point. Just being someone that’s hard to play against.”

That mentality is something former Iowa Wild coach Derek Lalonde grew to appreciate during his time with Shaw in the minors.

“I love Mason,” said Lalonde, now the coach of the Detroit Red Wings. “That’s a kid that in the little time I spent with him, I had a really good feel on what he’s about. I root for that kid. This is exciting for him.”

That excitement is clear simply by talking to Shaw. He’s thrilled to be playing at the highest level, and isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I think we’re lucky to do this as athletes and play hockey as a career,” Shaw said. “Every day I just enjoy coming to the rink. Sure, there were some hard times in there. I think that makes these days so rewarding.”

His parents Aaron and Lindsay got to watch him play a game in Los Angeles last season. Now, if everything goes according to plan, they will get to watch their son in Minnesota soon enough.

“You never really know what’s going to go on day to day around here,” Shaw said with a smile. “Hopefully in the near future they can get to another one.”

Briefly

Marcus Foligno missed Sunday’s game with an upper-body injury. Tyson Jost took his place in the lineup.

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