Players to Watch, 2016-17: Devin ShoreJun 23, 2016
You can’t help but wonder what could have been for Devin Shore.
He wasted no time getting everyone’s attention in his first full professional season with the overtime-winning goal over San Antonio in the Stars’ season opener. Most rookie players would be happy with a 15-goal campaign, scoring points in 10 straight games, recording their first career hat trick and making their NHL debut. But Shore did all that in his first 23 games of the season.
The rest of the 2015-16 campaign was cut short by a low hit by Ryan Murphy of the Charlotte Checkers. Murphy was suspended for three games due to the hit. Shore missed the last 48 with an injured shoulder.
“Devin’s not a flashy guy, he’s a hard-working guy that’s going to take the puck to the net,” said Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal after a late October game. “And you can cover as much as you want but he’s going to get by, he’s going to get there. So, that being said, that’s a staple of his game and that’s why he’s had success in those areas.”
|Devin Shore: By the Numbers
Shore finished with 26 points (15-11=26) in 23 games last year. He scored a goal in six straight games to set a new franchise record, and he finished one game shy of tying the franchise mark with a 10-game point streak. He would have had half a game to try and tie the record had he not suffered the low hit which ended his season. The production piled up right out of the gate for Dallas’ 2012 second-round pick with 11 points in eight October games to earn AHL Player of the Month honors. It quickly turned into his NHL-debut on Nov. 3, 2015, at Boston in a 5-3 win.
“Definitely a dream come true to get that first game in, and got a chance to play in some pretty cool buildings in Boston, Carolina and Detroit. Two of the original six,” said the University of Maine product after a November practice. “The guys were great. It was everything I hoped it would be and it was definitely a dream come true.”
For all the success Texas Stars fans witnessed out of the 22-year-old forward in his first full season, the curiosity of “what if” will loom until next year when Shore returns to the ice. He led the Stars averaging 1.13 points per game. San Antonio’s Mikko Rantanen (24 goals, 60 points in 52 games) and Providence’s Frank Vatrano (36 goals, 55 points in 36 games) were Co-Rookies of the Year in the AHL last year, but Shore was on pace for 80-plus points thanks to his ability to get to the front of the net.
“It’s as a simple as that,” Shore said in an early season interview. “They call that the dirty area. You’ve got to grind away and get there. It’s not easy ice to get to. You take some knocks, but good things happen when you’re playing the game that way.”
Despite the injury, the Ajax, Ontario, native continued to spend much of last season around his teammates while working back from his injury. The same way that Radek Faksa used the first half of the 2015-16 season to work back from a shoulder injury before cementing his place in Dallas, Shore could find himself on a similar pathway next year. His eye-popping offensive numbers certainly helped catapult himself to his first career NHL call-up, but Shore knows that it’s the other elements of his game that are key to making a place for himself in the Dallas lineup.
“I think that had to do with confidence and some puck luck,” Shore said of his league-leading goal totals early in the season to Wrong Side of the Red Line. “If I had to label or title myself as a player, I would say I’m a two-way player with some offensive ability. I want to be confident with or without the puck in all three zones, and with that I can throw in a little bit of goal scoring.”
The fans in Cedar Park went on a wild, 23-game ride with Devin Shore last season, and there may not be much time left as he continues to grow as a player. Enjoy him while you have him because he’s a player to watch in 2016-17.