Cage Match: Andrew Shaw vs. Nino Niederreiter

by Rick Roos on March 16, 2016


This week’s battle features two potential power forwards in the making, with Andrew Shaw taking on Nino Niederreiter. Can either become a multi-cat star; and who should you choose for your fantasy team? Time to find out – Cage Match starts now!


Career Path and Contract Status


Shaw wasn’t tabbed until pick 139 – and age 20 – in the 2011 draft, after 190 OHL games in which his total PIM more than tripled his total points (361 vs. 107). But the Blackhawks were onto something, as Shaw, now 24, landed in the NHL for part of the 2011-12 season, generating immediate fantasy attention with 23 points in 37 games and 50 PIM. Since then, Shaw has failed to take the next step production-wise, as he followed up 15 points in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign with 39 in 80 games in 2013-14 and then just 26 in 79 contests last season, all despite receiving opportunities as part of Chicago’s top six and PP1. For 2015-16, he showed signs of getting somewhat back on track, with 31 points in 61 games before a scoreless streak of eight contests.

Niederreiter, who turns 24 in September, was a marquee prospect, selected 5th overall by the Islanders in 2010. He made his debut the same season, although only for a nine game test run. Niederreiter then had an absolute nightmare sophomore campaign where he posted one point in 55 games. Yes, just one single point (an assist – not even a goal). That landed him back in the AHL for 2012-13, where he tallied 50 points in 74 games. Niederreiter fumed over not being invited to Islanders camp after the lockout, which ultimately led to him being dealt in the 2013 offseason. Since arriving in Minnesota, Niederreiter has posted consistent but unremarkable numbers (36 points in 2013-14, 37 last season), although this season he’s on pace to break 40 points for the first time.

Per Cap Friendly, Shaw counts $2M against the cap this season and will be an RFA this summer, while Niederreiter is on year two of a deal that runs through next season and carries a $2.66M yearly cap hit.


Ice Time



Total Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

PP Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)

SH Ice Time per game (rank among team’s forwards)


14:52 (A.S.) – 7th

15:37 (N.N.) – 8th

1:57 (A.S.) – 6th

1:52 (N.N.) – 6th

0:00 (A.S.)

0:02 (N.N.) – 11th


14:56 (A.S.) – 7th

14:32 (N.N.) – 9th

2:44 (A.S.) – 4th

1:32 (N.N.) – 7th

0:05 (A.S.) – 9th

0:27 (N.N.) – 9th


15:41 (A.S.) – 6th

14:05 (N.N.) – 10th

2:37 (A.S.) – 4th

1:21 (N.N.) – 8th

0:15 (A.S.) – 8th

0:00 (N.N.)


15:03 (A.S.) – 8th

2:02 (A.S.) – 7th

0:04 (A.S.) – 10th


The most eye-opening data is how high Shaw’s PP Ice Time was – at least prior to this season – in relation to his overall Ice Time, accounting for 18% in 2014-15. Yet this season, his PP Ice Time has dipped, likely in direct result to the addition of Artemi Panarin. And now that Andrew Ladd has arrived, it – along with his Total Ice Time – figures to drop even further.


For Niederreiter, let’s keep in mind this is a former top five draft pick who’ll have over 300 games of NHL experience by the end of 2015-16, so to still see him not getting a regular top six shift is concerning. On the plus side, poolies can point to a slow but consistent increase in both his overall Ice Time and his PP Ice Time, which is at least a step in the right direction.


On the surface, the takeaway is similar for both players – they’re on teams with talented and/or pricey forwards, so to some extent their mediocre Ice Time is expected. The question is what will happen in future seasons; and a good way to assess if they might be in line for more Ice Time is to examine their points per 60 minutes at 5×5 and 5×4:



P/60 Rankings for Shaw

P/60 Rankings for Niederreiter


193 of 314 (5×5); 135 of 182 (5×4)

69 of 314 (5×5); 176 of 184 (5×4)


299 of 359 (5×5); 183 of 195 (5×4)

190 of 359 (5×5); 106 of 195 (5×4)


112 of 346 (5×5); 164 of 202 (5×4)

167 of 346 (5×5); 122 of 202 (5×4)


It’s bad news pretty much across the board for Shaw, who only placed in the top half of NHL forwards in one of the six instances (5×5 P/60 back in 2013-14), while he was among the bottom 20% in half (i.e., three of six instances). Niederreiter had been right around the middle of the pack at 5×5 and 5×4, until this season, when he’s been very good for 5×5 but awful for 5×4. We’ll take a close look at Niedereitters luck metrics for this season to see if that can paint a clearer picture.


Secondary Categories




(per game)


(per game)

Blocked Shots (per game)


(per game)

PP Points

(per game)


0.77 (A.S.)

0.46 (N.N.)

1.88 (A.S.)

1.62 (N.N.)

0.27 (A.S.)

0.24 (N.N.)

1.84 (A.S.)

1.89 (N.N.)

0.11 (A.S.)

0.05 (N.N.)


0.85 (A.S.)

0.35 (N.N.)

1.60 (A.S.)

1.93 (N.N.)

0.41 (A.S.)

0.40 (N.N.)

1.84 (A.S.)

1.86 (N.N.)

0.07 (A.S.)

0.10 (N.N.)


0.95 (A.S.)

0.53 (N.N.)

2.10 (A.S.)

2.16 (N.N.)

0.20 (A.S.)

0.28 (N.N.)

1.86 (A.S.)

1.76 (N.N.)

0.11 (A.S.)

0.07 (N.N.)


0.79 (A.S.)

1.46 (A.S.)

0.29 (A.S.)

1.33 (A.S.)

0.04 (A.S.)


Shaw’s hallmark PIM have been slipping each season, while most of his other metrics have either held steady or, in the case of Hits, bounced up and down. Seeing his Shots totals does at least give a glimmer of hope that he might be able to produce more if he gets that rate higher.


For the most part, Niederreiter’s numbers for 2015-16 are lower than past seasons. The exception is SOG, which have crept very slowly but steadily upward. On the flip side, his once elite Hits output has dropped by 25% from 2013-14; that’s making it harder for poolies to patiently wait for his scoring to kick in. And given the above, it’s no surprise to see Niederreiter’s PPP rate for this season be this low. The question is whether unsustainable bad luck is to blame, and we’ll look at that below.


Luck-Based Metrics



Personal Shooting Percentage

PDO/SPSV (5×5)

IPP (5×5)

IPP (5×4)

Offensive Zone Starting % (5×5)


8.7% (A.S.)

11.5% (N.N.)

1019 (A.S.)

1013 (N.N.)

63.3% (A.S.)

68.3% (N.N.)

46.7% (A.S.)

26.7% (N.N.)

44.9% (A.S.)

54.4% (N.N.)


10.3% (A.S.)

16.9% (N.N.)

976 (A.S.)

1001 (N.N.)

64.0% (A.S.)

63.2% (N.N.)

27.3% (A.S.)

70.0% (N.N.)

61.0% (A.S.)

42.5% (N.N.)


13.4% (A.S.)

9.8% (N.N.)

1006 (A.S.)

1021 (N.N.)

53.7% (A.S.)

66.7% (N.N.)

29.6% (A.S.)

54.5% (N.N.)

67.9% (A.S.)

56.7% (N.N.)


14.1% (A.S.)

1023 (A.S.)

61.9% (A.S.)

25.0% (A.S.)

52.7% (A.S.)


Both players have consistent but, frankly, not great 5×5 IPP numbers. And those can’t be blamed on them having unfavorable line placement, since IPP is about how often a player gets a point when a goal is scored while he’s on the ice. In other words, it’s not about how many goals are scored, but rather the extent to which a player factors into that scoring. And for neither of these guys to have a 70% IPP at 5×5 even once in three seasons – that’s a strike against them becoming productive in the near future, or perhaps even long term.


Shaw’s IPPs – particularly 5×4 – are not as surprising given what we saw above for his 5×4 P/60 numbers. It’s also troubling that prior to this season, he was getting super high OZ% (20th among 235 forwards who played 70+ games in 2014-15; 2nd among 227 who played 70+ games in 2013-14) yet was unable to translate that into any semblance of decent scoring. But there’s a glimmer of hope in that his scoring pace for 2015-16 is nearly as good as 2013-14 despite a much lower OZ% and Personal Shooting %.


The number that really sticks out for Niederreiter is his 42.5% OZ% last season, which is genuinely surprising given that the Wild were not a bad team (which would drag down everyone’s OZ%) and that Niederreiter had only 0:27 of SH Ice Time. It looks like for whatever reason the team opted to not give him offensive zone starts. Interestingly, no forward who had a lower OZ% last season was able to score more than Niederreiter’s 37 points, so at least he made the best of a bad situation. Between that and his improved scoring pace this season, there seems to be more realistic hope for him – from a fantasy perspective – than Shaw.


Who Wins?


Before picking a winner, it’s important to put into context what it takes to be a successful multi-cat power forward, which is the magic question revolving around both Shaw and Niederreiter. Last season, 54 forwards scored ten or more goals while averaging 1.5+ Hits and 1.5+ SOG per game. But if we raise the goals criteria to 20+, there were only 20. And if we bump it up to 25+ goals, the number is reduced to just seven (Alex Ovechkin, David Backes, Blake Wheeler, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Anders Lee, and Wayne Simmonds).


If Shaw were to remain a Blackhawk, I’d have a hard time picturing him reaching even the 20+ goal threshold, which, it should be noted, Niederreiter already hit (along with 1.5+ Hits and 1.5+ SOG per game) last season. But here’s the thing – Shaw is an RFA; and with the Blackhawks in a major cap crunch and just signing Marcus Kruger, Shaw might be a cap casualty, or be used as a trade chip in order to get another team to take on Chicago’s albatross that is Bryan Bickell’s contract. Long story short – while you can usually count on 24 year old RFAs with NHL credentials like Shaw to end up re-signing with their current teams, he might be a rare exception.


But would a change of scenery lead to Shaw succeeding? Clearly a team that trades for Shaw would see a place for him in their immediate and future plans, what with his 61 games of playoff experience over the past three seasons (the only non-Blackhawk forward with more is Brian Boyle) and his still viable potential. But if Shaw is given a larger role, would he rise to the occasion? There’s precedent for his type of player doing better on a new team – for example Wheeler, Ladd, or ex-Blackhawk Troy Brouwer Yet if we examine 20+ Goal, 1.5+ Hit, 1.5+ SOG guys from last season, most showed signs of their multi-cat prowess by the time they’d played more than 300 games, unlike Shaw.


If Shaw was a lock to stay in Chicago, I’d have no hesitation declaring Niederreiter the winner. And come to think of it, my take is Niederreiter would still win if Shaw found himself in a new home for next season. After all, Niederreiter has produced better than Shaw for the most part, despite less PP Ice Time and not having opportunities to play with superstars like Shaw has. Beyond that, Niederreiter seems to be slowly gaining the trust of the Wild, resulting in his Ice Time creeping upward with each passing year. And just as important – Niederreiter is responding, with more SOG per game and a shot at his first 40 point campaign this season. Niederreiter is also helped by Jason Pominville seemingly starting to see his production slow, in which case despite Pominville large cap hit ($5.6M for three more seasons, per Cap Friendly), that could create an opening for Niederreiter to get still more Ice Time and responsibility.


In keepers, both are holds if you own them, while if you can get either for a bargain from a frustrated owner you might want to do that – even Shaw, who, although he probably isn’t a likely candidate for success, might connect the dots on a new team.