As far as their core group of players go, the Los Angeles Kings have amongst the best in the entire NHL, but it will be the development and play of one of their role players that could decide whether or not they find themselves back in the playoffs or not and take a shot at winning the Cup for the third time in six years.
When a player is vying for a spot on the team’s roster, he usually wants to be seen as much as possible. To be seen scoring, or passing, winning puck battles along the boards, or all the way down to a willingness to drop the gloves.
Nick Shore: Quiet, All-Around Game Will Boast Third Line
For 22 year old Nick Shore, its his ability not to stand out as to why he is the apparent lock-in to be the Kings’ third line center to start the season.
“He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t stick out right away,” Kings’ Assistant General Manager, as well as GM of their AHL affiliate in Manchester (not too mention Hockey Hall of Famer) Rob Blake said. “You don’t see anything flashy from him. Whether its his speed, his shot, or anything like that.”
Not exactly what you want to hear in most cases. First thought is to look for the guy with the most speed, best shot, etc… But Blake continued on as to why they value him so much as a prospect.
“But you watch him (throughout) the process of rookie camp last year [article is from 2014, so 2013 camp] you start to realize that the reason you don’t notice him is because he doesn’t make any mistakes.”
No matter how old you are, or what position you play, there is always a learning curve when making a transition to the NHL. The ones who often find it the easiest in settling in at that level are the ones who can consistently be steady in their own end, i.e. not making mistakes.
All though Shore didn’t exactly light the lamp on fire offensively when he made his 37 game debut for the Kings last year, he did everything else that you didn’t see – mostly in his own end – that it didn’t matter that he only scored seven points in that span.
Shore led the team in faceoff win percentage, winning 53% of his draws – 55% while the team was at even strength. His 1.58 GA/60 at even strength was the third lowest on the team among forwards, his team on-ice save% 93.57 – third best among the team’s forwards.
Basically, when he was on the ice, the opposing team didn’t score.
That’s not to say Shore doesn’t have any offensive upside, that’s far from the truth. With the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL last year, Shore was a point-per-game player, scoring 44 points (20 G, 22 A) in 38 games. Upon returning to the minors once the Kings’ season was done, the University of Denver product scored 18 points (4 G, 14 A) in 19 playoff games as the Monarchs ended up winning the Calder Cup.
Maybe the best thing that Shore can bring to the table for the Kings is his cap hit. With so much money tied up into the their core players, Shore signed a two-year deal as a restricted free agent this offseason worth a total value of $1.2 million – a cap hit of 600K.
Shore isn’t going to overtake anyone on the Kings’ roster as the ‘best at’ anything, but his solid, all-around game is something that any team in the NHL would love to have centering their third line.