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Wild prospect Shaw has come back strong from ACL tear

Mason Shaw skates this week at Wild development camp. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Wild)

ST. PAUL—Wild prospect Mason Shaw was well on his way to making a name for himself last season when everything came crashing down.

A fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, he played well in his first development camp then continued turning heads during the first game at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.

It all went downhill during the second game, when Shaw lost his edge on a routine play in the corner. He went down in a heap and after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

"It was an awkward play," Shaw said. "Unfortunately, it put an end to my season."

It also marked the start of a grueling rehab process for Shaw, one that's nearly complete with the 19-year-old back in the Twin CIties for his second development camp.

"You can't control what happened. You can control the response," Shaw said. "It's been a long road to recovery. ... I did a lot of work to get back and I'm confident where it's at right now."

While he's not yet 100 percent, Shaw has looked like his old self this week, flying around the Xcel Energy Center rink with the same ferocity that attracted the Wild in the first place.

"Not surprised," said former Iowa Wild coach Derek Lalonde, hired as an assistant with Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. "It was just another challenge for him, and the hope is he comes back bigger and stronger. It certainly looks that way."

Shaw said the way he performed heading into last season provided motivation during the rehabilitation process. He was confident he could get back to that point and determined to prove it to the rest of the organization. Shaw accomplished that goal, spending some time with the Iowa Wild last season, and even playing in one game before being shut down for the rest of the season.

"My goal was to get in, and I got a game in Des Moines at the end of the season," Shaw said. "My goal was to get healthy and I worked hard to do that. It was rewarding, for sure. ... I learned a lot from it. I got to spend quite a bit of time down there at the end of the season and it was very beneficial."

Perhaps most important, the live action gave Shaw complete trust in his right knee again.

"You can only do so much in practices, and when I was in Des Moines, everybody was pretty cautious about it," he said. "Just getting in that first game, and taking a few bumps, and giving a few bumps, that definitely gave me some confidence."

As for the actual game, Shaw dazzled in limited minutes.

"I probably played him too much," Lalonde said. "I just gravitated toward putting him out there and he didn't care who he was up against. There were guys that had 800 games in the NHL under their belt, and he was finishing his checks and going about his business."

"When I had him at the end of last season, I could tell he wasn't 100 percent," Lalonde added. "As for right now, he looks like the big strong farm boy that he is."

Shaw will more than likely start next season with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League (WHL). At some point, he'd like to get back to Des Moines.

"I can definitely take some positives from (last season), and mental toughness was a big thing," Shaw said. "I felt I responded pretty well."

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