Dallas Stars prospect Devin Shore’s first full professional season got off to a superb start, but it ended early when he suffered a shoulder injury in December that required surgery. Now, seven-and-half months after the injury, he is healthy and on the road back.
“I feel really close. I feel close, and it is only July,” Shore said after a workout at Dallas Stars development camp earlier this month.
The week-long camp was an opportunity for Shore to get in some good skating, go through competitive drills and see where he was in the recovery process.
“Realistically, if you have to get a shoulder surgery, getting it in December of your first year as a pro isn't necessarily a bad thing. You get it taken care of early, and now it feels fantastic,” Shore said. “I feel 100 percent now, so I have the rest of the summer to get it into game shape. There are a lot of positives to take out of it.”
Even though Shore played less than half the 2015-16 season, there were plenty of positives there as well. Shore, who can play both center and wing, began his first full pro campaign with a bang. He scored six goals in the first three games of the season for the Texas Stars of the AHL and registered 11 points (eight goals, three assists) in nine games during the month of October. That earned him a trip to the NHL, where he played three games with Dallas.
He returned to the AHL, where he put together a ten-game points streak that ended on Dec. 11 when he was upended on a low-hit by Charlotte’s Ryan Murphy. Shore underwent shoulder surgery and missed the final 51 games of the regular season and the playoffs. The AHL suspended Murphy three games for clipping.
"Definitely a roller coaster. It was a lot of fun, a lot of firsts,” Shore said. “It was my first full year as a pro. Looking back on it, it was obviously unfortunate, that bounce I got in December, but I try to take as many positives as I can out of it. It was a good time in Austin and a dream come true to get a call-up.”
Shore ended up with 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists) in 23 games with Texas. When he went out with the injury, he was leading the AHL in goal scoring and ranked third in points.
“Very, very impressive,” said Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson. “Just looking at his numbers he produced in the time he played, had he stayed healthy who knows where he would have ended up in the scoring race. He clearly has some high-end offensive qualities.”
Shore, a second-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, put up good offensive numbers at the University of Maine, registering 104 points (34 goals, 70 assists) in 112 games over three seasons. Translating those numbers to the pro game isn’t easy, but several things fell into place for Shore last season.
“I had some good puck luck, and I was fortunate to play with some good players. That being said, I do my best to work hard in the offseason, and I think confidence is a big thing,” Shore said. “It’s important to believe in your abilities. I was surprised, and I have a lot of teammates to thank for that production, but it’s important to have strong confidence and belief in your abilities to get better and convince yourself it wasn’t a fluke that you can play like that.”
Jackson wasn’t surprised by the production of Shore, who got a jump start on his pro career when he joined Texas late in the 2014-15 season and played 19 regular season games and three more in the playoffs.
“The only thing I thought he would have to get better at after watching him in college was he would have to pick up his pace. And he clearly made that an area where he wanted to get better,” Jackson said. “He trained in the offseason, he did his work, and he adjusted to the level of the game. I suspect he is going to do the same at the NHL level.”
Shore, who turned 22 last week, is expected to be in the mix for NHL playing time this season. He doesn’t have to look far for some inspiration as far as coming off the shoulder surgery. Radek Faksa was coming off shoulder surgery last season and made the jump from the AHL to the NHL, becoming a key player for Dallas down the stretch and in the playoffs.
"This surgery is, unfortunately, a little too common, but in a good way I don't have to look too far to talk to guys who have been through it before," Shore said. "[Faksa] and I talked a good amount about it. He's a perfect example. He put in the work. He didn't let his confidence waver, he was patient, he started in the American League, waited for his opportunity and he ran with it.
"He's definitely a kind of model I'd like to follow, for sure. If you tell me my surgery goes the way that his does, I'll take that in a heartbeat."
And so will the Dallas Stars.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.