April 19, 2016

Jeff Shantz

The Chicago Blackhawks drafted Jeff Shantz 36th overall in 1992, they had visions of grooming him into the Brent Sutter's replacement.

In other words, they envisioned Shantz becoming a smart, two way center capable of playing heavy minutes defensively while chipping in with timely offense on a regular basis.

Shantz was a smooth skater with good vision, but his offense was modest, to say the least.  He didn't have a quick release or a lot of creativity with the puck, but he was a gritty but clean player. He hit hard and worked harder, especially on the forecheck and the dump and chase. He was legitimately tough but, at his size, not intimidating.

Chicago had a lot of depth down the middle at the time, which was both a blessing and a curse for Shantz. It was a blessing because he was allowed to develop at his own pace while the likes of Jeremy Roenick and Bernie Nicholls handled the heavy offensive load. But it was a curse as Shantz never got a lot of quality offensive ice time.

And therein lied Shantz's ultimate fate. He was billed as a reliable two-way player but never developed enough of an offensive game to keep him in the lineup long term. He became a one-way, defensive center, and those types of journeymen players usually live life on the bubble.

Early in his sixth season in Chicago he was traded to Calgary with Steve Dubinsky for Jamie Allison, Erik Andersson and Marty McInnis.

After more of the same in four seasons with the Flames he was traded to Colorado with Dean McAmmond and Derek Morris for Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle in 2002.

Shantz lasted only a season in Colorado before his contract expired. With just three goals in 74 games NHL interest seemed to be waning for the services of the now-grizzled veteran. Shantz extended his career by spending nearly a decade playing in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

In retirement Shantz returned to his native Alberta and got involved in the energy sector while providing hockey training to elite athletes in Calgary.

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