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Training Camp Battles: Devin Shore briefly dominated the AHL, but can he dominate the NHL?

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Devin Shore dominated the AHL in 23 games. Is such a small sample size enough to garner the spotlight in the NHL with the Dallas Stars?

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Devin Shore is probably the most enigmatic of Dallas' prospects. No it's not because he's Russian. But because Stars fans have some experience with prospects with great starts transitioning into flaccid finishes. So Shore's stretch of successful games in the 'A are met with rightful trepidation.

Shore's journey began with several zigs until finally zagging his way into the NCAA in the 2012-2013 season for the University of Maine. Shore was more than a point per game player growing up. He began his college career the same way: leading the Black Bears in points with 6 goals and 20 assists in 38 games.

It was the kind of performance that earned him the role of assistant captain his sophomore year, in which he one (err, several) upped himself with 43 points in 35 games. By the time he was a junior, he was the official captain of Black Bears, and once again led the team in points. Even though it was a disappointing season for University, Shore's career was anything but.

Last season Shore blitzed the AHL with a torrid start, leading not just Texas, but the league in goals before getting injured. With 26 points in 23 games, 15 of which were goals (!), Shore announced his pro career with not a bang, but a hadron collider.

So you're saying there's a chance?

As odd as it may sound, Shore's talents aren't obvious. No scouting report, or tape of him ever emphasizes his speed (which he doesn't have), acceleration (Pinto-like), mobility (qualifies as agile, but nothing more), tape to tape passing (needs more finesse), or blistering shot (could use lessons from Shea Weber). So how the heck did he put up so many points in 23 AHL games?

First off, he's been consistently putting up points his entire career, so let's not reduce him to his brief (but admittedly great) AHL performance. Diligence is the root cause of Shore's success. The gif below explains how he's earned those puck purple hearts all those years from coaches. He's not overly physical, but he hounds the puck with persistence, and intelligence.

Shore Gif 1

Scouting reports always talk about Shore's IQ, and you see this in action: not only does he anticipate the pass correctly, but once he breaks it up, he does a good job of insulating himself from the poke check. Better yet, he's the same puck hound on open ice as he is in the corners:

Shore Gif 2

Shore is unique in understanding the geometry of pursuit. Rather than be confined by his limitations (lack of speed, size, or mobility), he displays how important abstract abilities (what we've come to torture as "intangibles") can be. How else to explain his rate of production? Shore is good in one on one situations. That includes being one on one with the goalie:

Shore Gif 3

Depth chart victim or depth chart valedictorian?

The biggest issue for Shore is center depth. Right now Dallas is filled to the brim. Not only is he competing with roster spots that won't be open for awhile (Faksa, Seguin, and Spezza), but he's competing for roster spots that could be won by centers with just as much potential, and skating abilities Shore lacks (like Dickinson, Hintz, and Eakin).

The other issue? Shore's stats. He was shooting almost 28 Percent (!) in Texas before getting injured. You don't need to be one of Dallas' fans who thought Alex Chiasson would probably continue his torrid pace when he first entered the scene to know that these are some incredibly inflated numbers. The great thing about 'advanced stats' is that they help clear up noise in numbers: scoring goals is valuable. But the connection between goals and offense requires more information, and we don't have access to that. Is Shore scoring goals because he's consistently taking shots from high danger areas? Or did he get lucky on scoring goals in medium-to-low danger areas that would normally be stopped otherwise? How well does he help his team generate his shots relative to his teammates?

My point isn't to harp on incomplete information as if Shore is the sum of a small sample size. But it's hard for me to identify what role Shore would have on Dallas without more information. His surface abilities don't stand out enough for me to err on the side of inclusion. Does he have the demeanor to be the necessary spark that characterizes a bottom six role? Can be buffer a top six? I'm a little skeptical, but only because of Dallas' depth at the position. If he can play left wing, things become more interesting. Whatever Shore's ceiling, he has value to the Stars organization. It's just a question of degree.