This weekend players from many different countries and leagues will be chosen during the NHL draft. One of those leagues is the OJHL (Ontario Junior Hockey League) an ‘A' junior league. The level of competition that a player sees is not as challenging as the CHL or the USHL but it still serves as a viable stepping stone for players who are heading to the NCAA or the OHL. Still, you don't see that many highly touted prospects coming from the Junior A leagues. Draft prospect Devin Shore played for the Whitby Fury of the OJHL last year and scouts don't seem to be holding that against him. NHL Central Scouting Services (CSS) and TSN.ca has him ranked in the top 60 of North American skaters/prospects. Shore is billed as a solid two-way player with a nose for the puck around the net. Although Shore has the option to return to the OJHL or play in the CHL he has committed to the University of Maine next year where he will continue his hockey development.
It wouldn't be a surprise if the Devils were interested in Shore. It wouldn't be the first time the Devils took a player out of a Junior 'A' league that was slated to go to the NCAA. Most notably Travis Zajac played a year in the BCHL before heading to the University of North Dakota. More recently, draftees Derek Rodwell and Curtis Gedig also followed the Junior 'A'/college path.
After the jump we will take a look at how Shore got here, what the experts are saying about him and I'll offer some opinions on him.
Devin Shore Career Statistics:
Who is Devin Shore?
Devin Shore is a 6'0"/180 pound center that played last season for the Whitby Fury of the OJHL. Before Whitby, Shore played a year in midget where he scored 40 goals in 68 games and a year at a prep school where he had 33 goals in 61 games.
His production at Ajax-Pickering led to his 4th round selection by the Barrie Colts in the 2010 OHL draft. Despite having the opportunity to go to the OHL to develop his game, Shore decided to attend the University of Maine, in May of 2011.
"It was one of those decisions that I agonized over for months. I was like a teeter-totter. Back and forth, back and forth," he recalls. "I just figured that education is very important to me. Even if I went the OHL, I'd still get an education, but to be able to get a post-secondary education and be able to play elite level hockey is a great feeling. Also, it gives me more time to develop instead of rushing things in the OHL, where there might only be that two- or three-year window."
With Maine a year away, Shore took his skills to the Whitby Fury of the OJHL. The Fury coaching staff was excited to have the talented Shore in the lineup and they were quickly rewarded as Shore raced out to score 9 goals and 21 points in the team's first 15 games.
His strong early play earned him an invitation to play for Team Canada East in the 2011 World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Langley, British Columbia. I am sure if didn't hurt that his coach for the Fury, Curtis Hodgins, was the coach for Canada East. Shore impressed many at the tournament as he led in scoring with 2 goals and 6 points in 6 games and earned the tournament MVP award. Canada East earned the Silver Medal at the tournament.
Shore finished the season with a total of 64 games played, scoring 36 goals and had 80 points with 9 power play goals along with 17 power play assists. His fantastic rookie campaign earned him the OJHL rookie of the year award. He was also voted his team MVP and was named a second team OJHL all star.
His strong second half of the year helped his draft stock. The CSS had Shore ranked #75 at the mid-term ranking and he jumped 17 slots to #58 in the final ranking.
What The Experts Are Saying:
Devin is a solid all-around player who is concerned with one thing. 'What can I do, to help the team win.' Incredibly unselfish, when it comes to the critical times in the game, Devin will take the 'bull by the horns' and do whatever is in the best interests of the team. His skating base is good and with improved strength, it will help his speed and help him be that much more difficult to keep in check. He has good quickness and agility and he's able to change pace and make it difficult for defenders to gauge his pace. His sense is excellent and he knows how to play the entire square footage of the rink and how to contribute in every situation. He plays at the critical times and he is a 'learn and adjust' player so he gains valuable experience during the game that can help him later. He is a strong competitor and is not going to allow himself to be denied or deterred form the task at hand. He makes those around him better and is capable of changing the direction of the game to his team's favour because of having his 'finger on the pulse' and believing he can deliver.
"Devin Shore is a smart playmaker with good offensive instincts," stated Director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr. "He sees the ice well and has a quick read and react game. Not only does he create scoring chances, but he's a proven goal scorer. It is quite an accomplishment for a first-year player to be an impact player and to win Rookie of the Year. It is quite an accomplishment for a first-year player to be an impact player and to win Rookie-of-the-Year. The experience Devin has gained playing in the OJHL will help his future development playing for the University of Maine."
Button alludes to the idea that Shore is 'clutch' which I am sure will grind the gears of many who claim 'clutch' doesn't exist. I fully believe in the ability for an athlete to be clutch, which lifts Shore up a few notches in my eyes. The 'learn and adjust' mindset that Button speaks to is very interesting and shows that he has great hockey sense.
Shore's current path to the NHL is my preferred path for prospects. I like for developing prospects to play against better competition in the NCAA and to not have the rigorous schedule the OHL offers. I also like that there are four years of potential development time at Maine as opposed to the two years he would likely play at the OHL level.
Further, by the accounts above and other material I've read he has the skill set and mental makeup to be a third line player should he not reach his potential as a top six forward. Since the reality is that many prospects who are top line forwards in junior leagues end up having to serve as third line players in the NHL, it takes a strong mental makeup to do that.
I also, love Shore's approach to the game. Via a DurhamRegion article back in November:
"I think just going to the rink every day and trying my best to help the team win and not focusing on individual anything. Just to say, 'what can I do to help the team win'. Sometimes it's blocking a shot, sometimes in winning a faceoff, sometimes it's getting points," he explains. "Whatever I can do to help the team I just try to do that and it's fun when I can help the guys win."
If it was up to me--as you already may know from yesterday's post--I hope the Devils select him on Saturday. The only issue with which I am struggling is when. A player who plays extremely well in any league at the age of 17 should be highly coveted, but invariably there will be teams that slot him lower on their draft boards because of his level of competition. It might be a big overdraft if he was selected in the 2nd round or it might be a steal. CSS and TSN have him ranked in their top 60 while other scouting services have him 30-40 spots lower. I doubt he lasts past the late 3rd/early 4th.
Now it's your turn: So what do you think about Devin Shore? Does the level of competition he faced last year in the OJHL scare you away from him? Where does he go in the draft? 2nd round? 3rd round? Do you feel more or less comfortable about him as a prospect based on his decision to attend Maine? Would you have rather he went to the OHL? Thanks for reading and sound off below.