It was a roller-coaster year in the NCAA for both of the Dallas Stars prospects who opted for the college route. So, how did it all turn out?
Shore came into the season with a lot of question marks. After performing as perhaps the best player on the University of Maine Black Bears last year and earning the top center spot on the roster before his freshman year even started, Shore had even more to prove this year. After being named assistant captain, could he contribute enough to carry his team out of the Hockey East basement it found itself in after the previous year? Could he take that next step as a prospect and become a leader while maintaining his scoring pace?
It looked a bit grim through the first few weeks. While getting shots on net and winning most of his faceoffs, Shore had some trouble accumulating points. When he did score, it almost always came on the power play. It looked like he might be turning into a power play specialist, but Shore soon righted the ship.
By the fourth week of the season, Devin Shore was playing some great hockey. He was getting assists most games and even contributing with some goals, and he continued to drive the play forward. He's shown himself to be a really hard worker - he constantly works to improve his skating and shooting and always tries to improve. This commitment began to show as he went on an 11 game point streak around the mid-season mark.
While he couldn't carry Maine far in the Hockey East tournament, he managed to be a point per game through the two rounds they played, so he ended what was another disappointing year for the Black Bears on a personal high note.
When all was said and done, Devin Shore scored 14 goals and assisted on another 29 for 43 points in just 35 games. Those are some excellent numbers in a pretty defensive minded league and earned Shore some consideration for the Hobey Baker award as the best player in the NCAA. While he didn't win the Hobey, Shore was rewarded for his excellent play with the Captaincy of the 2014-15 Black Bears, and a selection to the All Hockey East First-Team. These are some huge accomplishments for a player who just finished his sophomore season, and Shore has quickly become one of Dallas' most exciting prospects.
In terms of his future, Shore is too good to stay in college for very long, so he'll probably play his junior season then join the Texas Stars in the AHL. He should be dominant in the NCAA once again, and when he makes the jump to the pro game he might have an easier time adjusting than most because of his size, grit, and overall skill in both playmaking and scoring. He'll need to continue improving his skating, which might be his weakest asset, but he's got all the tools to succeed without being the best skater on the ice.
Alex Guptill's season was all over the place. From the start one of the most interesting storylines to follow with him was about his commitment to the game and to the University of Michigan program. In the past, head coach Red Berenson had benched Guptill for not trying hard enough in practice. Berenson always noted that Guptill has all the skill in the world to succeed, but that the young man had trouble focusing on the task at hand each and every night.
Guptill was benched for Michigan's first game of the year after Berenson was once again unhappy with his practice habits, but he rebounded nicely and scored four points in his first five games of the season. He followed that up by going on a tear during November when he scored eight points in six games. Things evened out after a little bit as he had a few quiet weekends, got injured, and then got benched one more time.
All in all it was a positive season for Guptill. Berenson didn't have as many complaints about him as he had the previous year, and Guptill showed that he could continue to contribute pretty frequently. On top of that, Berenson's challenges and benchings of Guptill came to be more about Alex becoming a gamebreaker rather than with his work ethic. He sat Guptill after a February 8th game against Penn State when Guptill ended up with a minus-2 and turned the puck over for an opposing goal. This was about Guptill's attention to detail, not his work ethic. The next night, Guptill bounced back again with a two-goal night against Ohio State.
Through all of the controversy, Alex Guptill has shown that he still has some growing up to do, but that he's also come a long way. Now that questions about work ethic have been largely put to rest, coach Red Berenson wanted to see Guptill take on a role as a better two way player, and only had to send the message once.
Guptill may stay for a fourth season at Michigan, but he may also make the jump to Texas. That depends on him and the Dallas Stars' contract situation. His development has been prolonged a little bit by some of the problems he's had over the last couple of years, but it looks like he's turning things around and becoming a regular contributor in all three zones. In the end, it will be much better for him that he faced this adversity early in his career and that coach Red Berenson has gone to great lengths to fashion him into a solid two-way player rather than a one dimensional scoring winger.