Devin Shore was a little bit of a mystery wrapped in an enigma for the Dallas Stars this year.
The eye test was pretty positive from the moment he made his season debut. Shore’s energy on the lower lines, and particularly his speed, made him an immediate hit with both fans and teammates. He was strong on the forecheck and positionally in the offensive zone.
But his possession numbers started the season never really matched the same level on both ends, and this was especially evident early in the year as his numbers really struggled. Although he improved in the shot-disparity category as the season went on, he still finished the season as the worst player in CF% on the team by a fair margin, with 47.68 percent.
(That said, Jamie Benn ended up third worst of the regular players who finished the season with the team after Shore and Jiri Hudler, so take it all for what it’s worth. But Benn was playing much more difficult minutes than Shore against much tougher competition.)
So how can this be? Some of it is that, despite the speed and pressure Shore created, it didn’t always turn into offensive chances on the third and fourth lines. The Stars took fewer shots per 60 minutes for with Shore on the ice than the did with almost any other regular player, and this is something that the team will almost certainly want to see improve next season.
One thing that did improve throughout the season, though, was the shots against. Shore’s overall numbers are hampered by the very poor start - he’s again at the bottom of the list for shots given up per 60 minutes, just behind Curtis McKenzie - but this was attributable to some overzealous puck pursuit early in the year. Some of the things that made Shore some much fun to watch - his super aggressive forechecking, for example - needed a little bit of refinement in his own zone so he didn’t get caught chasing as much.
That tendency absolutely improved as the year went on, and additionally, this is something that can almost assuredly get better with time and a little more savvy in his game. It’s very common for rookies who feel like they need to make an impression every night to overtry and struggle because of it, and Shore made the right steps to correct some of this already.
Because he’s clearly not going anywhere. This was the second season of his entry-level contract that costs the Stars $870,000 against the cap, and he has another one still on the books for next year. He’s a great fit on the lower lines (not to mention in celebration pictures), but it does beg an interesting question - what type of player do they want him to be eventually?
Despite his speed and enthusiasm, as well as his very impressive 13 goals and 33 points as a rookie, it’s unlikely Shore will supplant some of the Stars higher-end prospects in the skill positions on the top two lines. He had a great scoring surge in 2015-16 with the Texas Stars, but his NCAA development history doesn’t really read like that of a high-end NHL scorer. He was used alongside Patrick Sharp at times as the Stars looked for offense this season but didn’t spend much time next to the Stars high-end centers.
It’s an interesting question to ponder. Shore’s possession numbers aren’t those of, say, a Radek Faksa that screams shut-down or at least defensively-responsible center. And while he’s had good offensive showings in the AHL and as an NHL rookie, his history and shot production don’t point to him being a scorer.
But as many players have shown over the years, you don’t have to fit an exact stereotype to be a successful player in this league, and plenty of players outperform their original projections and expectations (Antoine Roussel and his surprising offensive abilities are a great example). A
What grade do you give Devin Shore’s rookie season?
This poll is closed
A for Awesome
B for Better than Average
C for Confusing
D for Disappointing
F for, well, you know
s Shore goes through his second full season with the team next year, it will become more clearly exactly what type of role he will fill for this team long term.