Devin Shore. He's a player that most Dallas Stars fans would have heard of but probably have never seen play. Compared to the Canadian Major Juniors, the NCAA doesn't get as much attention from the media. It's one of the reasons why, in the poll of who is the top prospect within the organization, Shore has done worse compared to Brett Ritchie and Jason Dickinson.
This article isn't a knock at those two players—they have lots of potential and, in the case of Ritchie, could be considered further along in proving it. Instead, this is advocating why I believe that Devin Shore is the best forward prospect the Dallas Stars have.
For those of you who may not know who Shore is, he's a centerman playing with the University of Maine Black Bears. He was drafted back in 2012 at 61st overall in the second round (there had been a compensation pick that had made the second round 31 picks long). He was drafted out of the OJHL, part of the second tier of Canadian Junior hockey. It's a place that the Stars have gone to draft players such as Jamie Benn, Reilly Smith, Curtis McKenzie and Alex Guptill. Shore dominated with the Whitby Fury, scoring 58 points in 41 games in his draft year.
He was described as a top end playmaking forward with decent skating who needed to improve his shot if he wanted to become an all round scoring threat. In his two years at the University of Maine, he has taken steps to easily be their best forward and arguably the best forward prospect the Dallas Stars have.
He's big—not just tall but built incredibly solidly. He is around 6'1" and finished the season weighing 205 pounds. The impressive thing is that's 10 pounds heavier than when he started the season. He's put a lot of time and effort into improving his body strength and his skills. This effort has shown itself on the ice with the Black Bears.
In his first season, he stepped in as their first line center and finished with 26 points in 38 games—not bad at all for a rookie and similar numbers to other former NCAA prospects the Dallas Stars have had. Reilly Smith had 20 points, Alex Chiasson 19 and Alex Guptill had 33 in their rookie seasons.
It's this season that has propelled forward Shore's game. He finished with 43 points in 35 games; across a full NHL season, that equals around 41 points. As Josh points out in this piece from June, that is top for all Dallas Stars prospects.
That's not bad for a prospect playing on a not great team in one of the toughest divisions in the NCAA. Hockey East has some of the biggest names of NCAA hockey within it: Boston College, Boston University and U-Mass Lowell. Shore has had some pretty spectacular outings against these teams that have really put him in the spotlight in college hockey.
Have I mentioned he has a relatively late birth date as well? His birthday is the 19th of July, meaning that he played his second year in the NCAA as a 19 year old. He was voted to be the team's captain next season.
In his last season he was named to Second Team All-American, named to the Hockey East First Team and named the Harold Alfond Team Most Valuable player. His 43 points led Maine by 14 points over the next player. He had three powerplay goals and three shorthanded goals. He is an all around player who can play the point on the powerplay and do work in the defensive zone as well.
When the Dallas Stars announced their development camp roster, Les Jackson, the Dallas Stars Assistant GM, said of Shore: "Devin had a really strong season. He's a real solid player, smart. He was one of the better players in college hockey. He has a great attitude, good work ethic. He had a terrific season. I suspect next season will be an interesting one for him and it will be interesting to see where he is at. Pretty impressive player and person."
Shore has the skating, the size, the playmaking ability and hockey IQ that puts him above the other forward prospects Dallas has. Yes, some, if not most, are going to mention Brett Ritchie in the comments. Ritchie is going to be really good but I think Shore will be even better. This is just my own opinion thinking about their respective potential. How close they are to the NHL doesn't come into it—it's based purely on their potential in the NHL.
He's going to go back to Maine next year and he's going to be their captain. He's going to push even further and try even harder and will probably get stronger and better. He could have turned pro at the end of the 2013-2014 season and wouldn't have looked out of place in the AHL. Instead, we will likely see him in Austin at the end of next season and he is going to blow people away. His combination of size, intelligence, shot and playmaking ability give him a high ceiling and his development curve is putting him on course to reach the top.
When it comes to who the Dallas Stars top forward prospect is, I'm definitely on Team Shore.