Chicago Blackhawks: Why Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes Are Here to Stay

Michael Gibbons@DachicagofanCorrespondent IIJanuary 17, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 12: Andrew Shaw #68 of the Chicago Blackhawks (R) celebrates his first period goal with Ben Smith #28 against the Minnesota Wild at the United Center on January 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Rookies Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes have impressed many during their short time up with the Blackhawks.

And with each goal, they are only making their case stronger to stay with the big club.

In nine games, Hayes has three goals and two assists for five points, while Shaw has tallied four goals and zero assists in seven games. Shaw has scored in three straight games including the game-winner on Sunday.

Hayes has been working his way up the depth chart from fourth line to the second line, skating alongside Dave Bolland and all-star Marian Hossa on the second line.

After making his debut on the top line with Jonathan Toews, Shaw has seemed to find a home providing some energy to the third line. He also has seen time at center as well as at both wings.

Both rookies have also provided some physical play, with Hayes having 22 hits and Shaw with 16. With the pace they are on, they would be right up there with team-leader Brent Seabrook, who has 103.

The funny thing is that the two couldn't be more different physically. Hayes stands at 6'6" and 221 pounds, while Shaw rivals Patrick Kane for smallest on the team at 5'10" and 180.

They both have also found their way onto some special-teams units. Hayes has been inserted on the second power-play unit, while Shaw has seen some time on the penalty kill.

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 10: Jimmy Hayes #39 of the Chicago Blackhawks waits for a pass in front of Nikita Nikitin #6 of the Columbus Blue Jackets at the United Center on January 10, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Blue Jackets 5-2. (P
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

With Patrick Sharp out until the middle of February, these two will have plenty of time to continue to prove their worth.

The one player who should be very worried about his roster spot is Bryan Bickell. Coming off a career season last year, Bickell is in danger of being surpassed by not just one but both rookies very soon. After tallying 37 points in 78 games last season, he has only nine points in 40 games this season.

Bickell sees no time on either the power play or penalty kill, and while he is third on the team in hits, many would say he doesn't play physical enough.

Another forward who may be the odd-man out is Andrew Brunette. While he has 18 points on the year, Brunette has been very inconsistent.

With Dan Carcillo out for the season, it would seem like Shaw is a near lock to stay, especially if he keeps putting the puck in the net.

Hayes is probably in more direct competition with Bickell for that final forward spot.

Once Sharp returns, it should make a real interesting competition nightly to see who sits and who plays. Brunette could find his roster spot safe, but he might end up being the healthy scratch nightly.

While some more highly touted rookies like Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin have come and gone, it seems like these two are here to stay.