Devin Shore has been part of the Dallas Stars organization since 2012 when the team selected him in the second round of the NHL Draft. But because he was in college at the University of Maine, he never had the chance to attend a Dallas training camp. Until now. And he is soaking in the experience.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Shore said. “It’s been fast. Everyone here can play, obviously. The pace of the scrimmages has been fast, and they have been intense. That’s what makes it fun and I am really enjoying myself.”
Last spring Shore decided to turn pro after his junior season and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Stars. The 2015-16 season will be his first full one as a pro. He got a taste of pro hockey late last season when he joined the Texas Stars of the AHL, but now he is getting a look at the game at the highest level. Tuesday night, he played in his first NHL preseason game, logging 14:12 of ice time and winning 12 of 16 faceoffs.
“It’s awesome to be on the same ice as all these great players, and I am just trying to sponge it all in and get better every day,” said Shore, a 21-year-old Ontario native.
It’s an opportunity to watch and learn from some of the top players in the game; guys Shore has admired from a distance. Guys he now can observe up close and pick their brains for tips on improving his game.
“I watch [Jamie] Benn and [Tyler] Seguin, the centers – Cody Eakin and Vernon Fiddler – because I usually play center, and I want to take in their tricks of the trade,” Shore said. “And I watch all the forwards, how they play the game and the way they play heads up. [Patrick] Sharp is an amazing guy. The guys you watch on SportsCentre, you are seeing now firsthand. If you have questions you can ask them, they are very approachable. And you try to implement anything you can into your game.”
Shore played three seasons at Maine, tallying 104 points (34 goals, 70 assists) in 112 games. He never missed a game during his three-year career and led the Black Bears in scoring all three seasons he was there.
He joined the Texas Stars late last season and played in 19 regular season games, registering six points (four goals, two assists). He scored one goal in three Calder Cup playoff games. Shore, a solid two-way player, impressed the Texas coaching staff.
“He skates well. He’s got a good head on his shoulders. He is physical,” Texas coach Derek Laxdal said last spring. “He reads the game really well; that’s part of the hockey IQ. I’m a big believer if you can’t think the game it is hard to play it. … He comes to the rink, and he’s got passion. He’s smiling all the time. He’s real pleasant to be around, and he is a great teammate. I think he is going to be a special player.”
Shore is among a group of young Dallas prospects trying to push their way into the conversation for NHL playing time. Among the players in that group are Radek Faksa (first round/2012), Jason Dickinson (first round/2013), Remi Elie (second/2013) and Mattias Janmark (trade acquisition). Dickinson, Elie and Shore all are in their first season as pros.
“I’ve liked [Shore],” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ve used him a little bit at the wing and a little bit in the middle, and I like him better in the middle. He’s a solid player, and he knows the game. I think he has really good potential. He’s about where I thought he would be, and it will be interesting to see where he gets to.”
While Shore is working hard to learn the game at the NHL level, he continues to work on getting his degree from Maine.
“I am taking an online class right now,” he said. “It’s not too overwhelming. I am used to taking four or five during a semester. Education has always been important to me, so it’s good to chip away to get my degree. And these camps and pro hockey are intense, so it’s good to get your mind off stuff when you get home and unwind. So I am taking the class, and I promised my mom I would get my degree, and I am going to.”
But the main focus is hockey and fulfilling that lifelong dream of making his way to the NHL.
“With camp and the time in the AHL, you just want to continue to get better and prove that you can play at this level,” Shore said. “You have to respect the process and be patient but at the same time you are so close. The NHL is a phone call away, so you want to take advantage of every opportunity you can. You want to take care of everything off the ice, so you are prepared as you can be when the opportunities arise. The dream is to play in the NHL, and I am doing everything I can to hopefully make that a reality one day.”
Notes: Stars reduce camp roster
*The Stars reduced their training camp roster by three players Wednesday, sending defensemen Aaron Haydon (Niagara/OHL), defenseman Alex Peters (Flint/OHL) and forward Brett Pollock (Edmonton/WHL) back to their respective junior teams. The Stars roster now stands at 54 players.
*The Stars had Wednesday off. They’ll resume practices Thursday morning in Frisco at 10:00 a.m.
*The next preseason game for the Stars is Thursday at St. Louis.
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.