2015 Prospect Tournaments: Shore working on versatility to overcome Stars’ crowded center position

By Sean Shapiro
Devin Shore - University of Maine

Photo: Dallas Stars forward prospect Devin Shore posted 14 goals and 35 points in 39 games in his final season at the University of Maine before joining the Texas Stars for the remainder of the 2014-15 season (courtesy of Richard T. Gagnon/Getty Images)

 

 

Even though he’s technically entering his first professional season, the Dallas Stars are expecting big things out of Devin Shore.

A power forward with good size, Shore made his professional debut late last season in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars. He immediately impressed, and became a staple in the lineup for the Calder Cup Playoffs.

So, what’s next?

“I expect him to be an impact player,” Scott White, the Dallas Stars’ Director of Hockey Operations, told Hockey’s Future. “I expect him to adapt to the pro game even more. He’s prepared himself well for this.”

And with much of the Dallas brass watching — including Stars’ head coach Lindy Ruff and general manager Jim Nill — Shore started making an impact at the 2015 Traverse City Prospects Tournament hosted by the Detroit Red Wings.

In a 4-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks‘ prospects, Shore set up Cole Ully for the game-winning goal with 26 seconds remaining — part of a wild comeback that saw Dallas erase a 2-1 deficit with less than a minute to go.

It was a finesse play, a nicely feathered pass on a two-on-one, to go with Shore’s size and strength that he worked on during the summer.

He spent the summer working out five days a week with Gary Roberts in Toronto, a high-profile group that includes the likes of Steven Stamkos and Phil Kessell.

“It was incredible working with those guys,” Shore told Hockey’s Future. “They’re some of the best and you can really learn from them.”

Any specifics?

“Just the little things that you go through as a player,” Shore said. “Just kind of watching them and see how they carry themselves. You see what works. They’re not where they are for no reason. They put in the extra work and it shows.”

He said it’s also a pretty good group of golfers.

Shore would often golf with the other players training with Roberts — he said he’s a 12-handicap — and he said Stamkos was probably the best golfer of the group.

“I enjoy golfing with the guys,” Shore said. “It was another way to get out and stay active, and really bond with great hockey players.”

And Shore was better prepared to work, and golf, with that group because of the time he spent at the University of Maine.

While he could have gone the major junior route, he elected to go to college where there was more of an emphasis on weight training and getting stronger — something that is now, pun intended, one of the strengths of his game.

“There are different routes for everyone,” Shore said. “For some guys major junior is better. For me, college was the route I needed to go and it really helped me turn into the player who I am.”

And that player is one that Dallas is hoping can make a big impact in his first full season of professional hockey.

“I’m just going to try and compete and try and make my team better,” Shore said. “I’m a rookie, so I know I have to do everything and anything I can to help out. But, I’m really looking forward to that.”

Which could require some versatility.

Dallas is particularly deep at center, where Shore played at Maine, and has invested stock in Jason Dickinson, Mattias Janmark, and Radek Faksa. Add in Travis Morin and Justin Dowling, who occupy the top two center spots for the Texas Stars, and it’s a crowded field.

“I think the important thing to look at is that ‘I want to help the team no matter what,’ attitude,” Shore said. “You have to be versatile especially at this level. Because a ton of guys can play center and wing, and you have to be able to step in and play as your called upon.”

Shore also feels slotting a player into a single position is a short-sighted point of view.

“Especially with today’s game,” Shore said. “It’s way more read and react. The first guy back on the backcheck has to be the low forward, and on the forecheck you fill lanes. It’s a lot of reading off each other. Nowadays, if you’re a winger, it doesn’t mean you just stick your butt on the boards and go up and down the ice like you used to.”

Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter via @SeanShapiro