The Calgary Flames have a lot of centres. This time a year ago, one of those centres was Corban Knight, just coming off of his first professional season that showed he had some potential. He was just one of many, though, and ultimately ended up traded for a younger, better right-shooting centre: Drew Shore.
The Flames upgraded Knight for Shore at no real cost to themselves, and suddenly, had another NHL body: a body that was about to require waivers to be sent down.
Shore had played 67 NHL games for the Florida Panthers by the time he was traded, just a few games away from losing waiver exemption. The Flames gradually gave him those games, and after that, he was locked in the big league. With an abundance of forwards available, the 6'3, 205 lb. Shore now needs to prove the NHL is exactly where he belongs; otherwise, a regular lineup spot with the Flames can't be guaranteed.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Draft||2014-15 team||Vote total|
|9||Drew Shore||01/29/91||44th overall, 2009||San Antonio Rampage, Adirondack Flames (AHL), Calgary Flames (NHL)||124|
Shore came up through the national US development team, posting modest numbers but never quite reaching the top of the group. The Panthers took him in the second round of his draft year, and he committed to the University of Denver, opening up with a lacklustre freshman season. While the team performed well, taking top spot in the WCHA conference (but falling in the East Regional Semis of the overall NCAA tournament), Shore was only ninth in team scoring (teammate Joe Colborne, one year older than him, was second).
Shore completely broke out in his sophomore year with Denver. He leaped up to take the lead in team scoring, just one point over fellow teammate Jason Zucker (one year younger). Denver fell to second in the WCHA conference over the regular season, but performed better in the NCAA tournament, making it to the Midwest Regional Final before falling to North Dakota.
He was also a member of the 2011 Team USA World Junior team, but didn't contribute much offensively (in fairness, it wasn't a particularly high scoring team; three forwards scored six points over six games, and that's about it for firepower) en route to a bronze medal.
In his junior season, Shore proved his sophomore year wasn't a flash in the pan. He kept his numbers up and remained top of the team scoring, extending his lead on Zucker, with seven more points over four more games. However, Denver fell to third in the WCHA, and lost in the Midwest Regional Semis.
With that, Shore's NCAA career ended, and he got his first taste of professional hockey as a 21-year-old. He returned to the AHL at the start of the 2012-13 season, when the NHL lockout was in effect, and was one of San Antonio's better scorers. When the lockout ended, Shore was called up to play with the Panthers, and spent the rest of his rookie season in the NHL.
In 2013-14, as a 22-year-old, Shore split time between the AHL and NHL. His AHL numbers once again had him near the top of the Rampage, fourth in scoring despite only playing 50 games (and the second youngest high scorer; Vincent Trocheck, two years younger, scored 10 more points over five more games); his NHL numbers were about the same as from his rookie season. He also represented Team USA at the World Championships, but wasn't a key player on a team that ultimately lost in the quarterfinals (he did outscore Trocheck in the tournament, though).
Shore was nearly at a point per game as a 23-year-old in the AHL when the Panthers, fearing potentially losing him for nothing in the near future, traded him to the Flames. Going to a worse AHL team - Adirondack finished out of the playoffs, San Antonio was a division champion - hit his numbers a little for when he was sent down; when he was brought up, he didn't find a regular place in the Flames' lineup until the end of the season, and even then, he was used primarily on the fourth line.
Strengths and weaknesses
Like many of the Flames' top prospects and young players, one of Shore's best assets is his hockey smarts, and his ability to see and read the ice well. He has size and reach, and will play a physical game, all the while still being able to put up some points and be an offensive threat. He's also capable of playing a solid defensive game, and is a hard worker, too: obviously, an asset to this Flames team. He should be able to keep up with the NHL game.
However, like many teams' mid-tier prospects, Shore simply isn't an elite player. He does a lot of things well, but not at an exceptionally high level. He has some offensive talent, but isn't a big goal scorer, and is a set up man more than anything else. Shore's skating has been a concern throughout his career, but it isn't something that should hold him back, especially as it's an area he has improved in.
Future with the Flames
Early projections called for Shore's maximum potential to be a second line guy, a role he's probably not going to reach on the Flames. He can, however, be an excellent depth player who won't hurt his team, and do all of the little things right to ensure the puck stays out of his net, while moving it up the ice. He isn't exactly going to be the kind of guy you rely on first, and he still needs to establish himself with a regular roster spot on the Flames.
Considering the logjam at centre, we'll see if he finds his role there, or if he shifts to the right wing instead: an area the Flames have few prospects in, and an area he may be able to find more success and consistency within the lineup. Either way, he likely won't end up a top player for this team, and looks to be more of a depth player - albeit one who can be bumped up the lineup if necessary.
Expectations for 2015-16
First off, make the Flames. Even if Shore isn't a regular from the get-go, if he's to stay with this team long-term, it'll have to happen sooner rather than later. If anything, it's more likely he plays on the right side: from there you hope he just makes his teammates better, and isn't a defensive liability. He probably won't put up big point totals - has yet to experience such a thing in the NHL - so an improvement there would be nice, but ultimately, if he can prove himself a regular NHLer, he'll have had a successful year.
Earlier on the list
#25 - Ryan Culkin // #24 - Hunter Smith // #23 - Pavel Karnaukhov // #22 - Garnet Hathaway // #21 - Kenny Agostino// #20 - Mark Jankowski // #19 - Bill Arnold // #18 - Kenney Morrison // #17 - Andrew Mangiapane // T-#14 - Mason McDonald // T-#14 - Brandon Hickey // T-#14 - Rasmus Andersson // #13 - Tyler Wotherspoon // #12 - Oliver Kylington // #11 - Morgan Klimchuk // #10 - Markus Granlund