LA Kings Center Prospect Nick Shore Doesn’t Stand Out, But That’s A Good Thing

LA KINGS PROSPECT WATCH: Throughout the summer, Frozen Royalty will be taking a look at several of the Los Angeles Kings’ young prospects. In this installment, the focus is on 2011 third round pick, center Nick Shore. An audio interview with Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake is also included.

Los Angeles Kings center prospect Nick Shore
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/
LOS ANGELES — He may not be the flashy sniper or the speedy forward with star power to spare who catches everyone’s eye. Nevertheless, he got himself noticed by the management of the Los Angeles Kings because he rarely made a mistake on the ice.

That player is 21-year-old center prospect Nick Shore, who scored 14 goals and tallied 24 assists for 38 points, with a +18 plus/minus rating and 36 penalty minutes in 68 regular season games with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League last season, his first in the professional ranks.

“He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t stick out right away,” said Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake, who also serves as general manager of the Monarchs, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate. “You don’t see anything flashy from him, whether it’s his speed, his shot, or anything like that. But you watch him [throughout] the process of rookie camp last year, you start to realize that the reason you don’t notice him is because he doesn’t make any mistakes.”

“There’s players that are like that,” added Blake. “You can watch on a constant basis and you overlook them until you look at the stat sheet and he’s got a few points and had a good statistical night. But the thing that you overlook is that he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. So he doesn’t stick out. You don’t notice him for that, which is a good thing.”

Indeed, Shore had a solid rookie camp and training camp in 2012-13 and his first season in the pros, he ended up playing a more significant role than expected after the recalls of forwards Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson to the Kings, along with the comings and goings of center Linden Vey, who was recalled and sent back to Manchester by the Kings several times last season.

“That’s how things are in the AHL, with players going up and down,” said Shore, a native of Denver, Colorado who was selected by the Kings in the third round (82nd overall) of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft. “When guys go up, you end up with more responsibility and you play more. That definitely helps.”

“[Last season] went well,” added Shore. “It ended a little bit sooner than all of us expected (the Monarchs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Norfolk in five games). For me, personally, it started off slow, but it progressed and got better as the year went on.”

One of the biggest challenges for Shore has been making the adjustment to the professional level.

“There’s definitely an adjustment moving from college to pro,” said Shore, who played for the University of Denver. “But most of that is the lifestyle and stuff you deal with off the ice. It also takes a little bit to get acclimated to playing in a new system and new guys. But there wasn’t a huge transition, or anything like that.”

But Blake indicated that the adjustment from college to pro was much more than that for Shore, and it remains his biggest challenge.

“Understanding how to compete at the pro level every night [is something Shore has to focus on],” Blake emphasized. “It’s tough when you come out of college where you’re playing 30-plus games a year and you play on weekends only. [In the AHL], the long season can wear on you.”

“I think, for the most part, for the kids who come up to the American league, you look for consistent effort every night and the understanding that it’s a pro game every single night,” Blake added. “You can’t have nights off.”

“He was probably a little more prepared than most, with his brother [center Drew Shore] coming out of the college ranks the year before in the Florida organization. The whole family understands what pro hockey is all about, so he’s got an advantage on a lot of kids.”

Despite the adjustment that still needs to be made, Shore’s first season of professional hockey was a good one.

“You saw his season progress through to the end, and into the first round of the playoffs,” said Blake. “He became a very important player on the team.”

One reason for that is Shore’s ability to play both sides of the puck.

“I take a lot of pride in being a two-way forward, being able to play in all situations and in all three zones,” he said. “I definitely take the 200-foot approach to the game. Going forward, keeping that going and getting used to the pace of play [is his immediate priority].”

“You’ve got to take care of things in your own end first,” he added. “When that part of the game comes, everything else sort of piggybacks off that.”

Now that he’s gotten his feet wet in the professional ranks, Shore wants to add another dimension to his game.

“One of the main things I’ve worked on this summer is to be more of a scorer,” he said. “I’ve always played the game pass first. I just need to have a different mindset and have a bit more of a scorer’s mentality.”

Towards that end, Shore has been hard at work this summer, in the gym, working on his strength and conditioning and on the ice, working on his game.

“[Some of the Kings prospects] went up to Livonia, [Michigan to work on skill development],” he noted. “Stick handling, shooting, watching video.”

“He was in here [at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California, the Kings’ practice facility, earlier in the summer] and there’s definitely a change in his body over the last couple of years,” Blake noted. “He’s bigger and stronger, becoming that pro. He had a very respectable first year. There’s a lot of good things ahead for him.”

Shore was also with the Kings during the first and second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, one of the Kings’ Black Aces—young players recalled during the playoffs to observe and learn from the players at the NHL level.

“The first three rounds were all [seven games in length], so I think you learn a lot from watching those games,” Shore observed. “They were so resilient. Every time they were counted out, they always bounced right back.”

The Kings’ focus and ability to play as a team during their run to the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship stood out for Shore.

“From top to bottom, they had the same mentality,” Shore noted. “When you have your twelve or 13 forwards all on the same page you’re going to have success.”

“It’s amazing how they play as a five-man unit. The biggest thing is that there’s always an out, they’re always supporting each other.”

Raw Audio Interviews

(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):

Rob Blake (2:22)

Frozen Royalty’s Nick Shore Coverage

Frozen Royalty’s 2014 Off-Season LA Kings Prospects Coverage

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