AUDIO: Includes an interview with Los Angeles Kings center prospect Nick Shore.
EL SEGUNDO, CA — On March 2, 2015, a day when 24 trades involving 43 players were made in the National Hockey League, the Los Angeles Kings decided to stand pat, having already acquired veteran defenseman Andrej Sekera on February 25, in exchange for a conditional first round draft pick and defenseman prospect Roland McKeown.
With no trade deadline deals to analyze, let’s take a look at center Nick Shore, who is working to lock down a permanent roster spot with the Kings during what has become a huge struggle to make the playoffs.
Shore, who was first recalled on January 11 from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ current AHL affiliate (he was assigned back to Manchester during the NHL All-Star break, and was recalled again after the All-Star break on January 26), has played in 16 games with the Kings this season, recording two assists, with a -2 plus/minus rating and four penalty minutes.
In 38 games with the Monarchs this season, Shore scored twenty goals and contributed 22 assists for 42 points, with a +23 plus/minus rating and 16 penalty minutes. He was the team’s leading scorer at the time of his recall.
“He’s such a smart player,” said defenseman prospect Derek Forbort, who has played with Shore with the Monarchs. “He’s so responsible in the defensive zone, and he’s good offensively. He’s one of the better two-way guys I’ve ever played with.”
“He’s strong on pucks and just seems to make the smart play all the time,” added Forbort. “I think that’s why he’s so successful.”
Shore played on the first line with the Monarchs, but like so many young prospects, he is seeing fourth line duty with the Kings as he makes the adjustment from the AHL to the NHL.
“Plays happen a little bit quicker, [and] guys are in the right spots,” said Shore. “Another big adjustment is getting accustomed to playing with a different group of guys. Everyone has their tendencies that you pick up on. As [you play more], you get a little chemistry, and it gets better from there.”
“I’ve been playing with [left wing Kyle Clifford and right wing Jordan Nolan] for the last couple of games now,” added Shore. “As a line, we make a conscious effort to do what we can with the shifts that we get. We just try to grind it down low for a little bit, create some end zone [time], and hope we get some chances.”
Shore isn’t lighting the NHL on fire. Nevertheless, the adjustment seems to be coming along.
“You sort of get accustomed to [everyone being bigger, stronger and faster],” he said. “Things happen a little bit faster, so you’re ready for that. It’s a huge help that guys are smart hockey players in this room. They’re always in the right spots, so you always have a play when you get the puck.”
“You’ve got to know what you’re doing before you get the puck,” he added. “It’s a little different, where you get the puck and someone’s on you. You don’t necessarily have the time to pick your head up and look around, so it’s a huge help, playing with [certain] guys [a lot]. You develop chemistry and start to find each other.”
One hint that Shore has earned some trust from the Kings coaching staff is that he is seeing time on the penalty-kill.
“That just speaks to the kind of player he is,” Forbort noted. “He’s just a very responsible player, and I think the coaches really trust him to be out there.”
“I honestly think it’s the way he thinks the game,” Forbort added. “He’s just really good in a lot of different areas. That’s why he’s such a well-rounded player, and why he’s had success.”
Despite that apparent trust, head coach Darryl Sutter has proven to be reticent to praise players, especially young prospects, and that’s probably a vast understatement. As such, it was no surprise when he offered a rather guarded assessment of Shore.
“He’s played fine,” said Sutter. “But you’ve got to be careful who he’s out on the ice with. At home, it’s easier. On the road, it’ll be a bigger challenge. He’s struggled on the road against top players.”
Sutter then issued his usual challenge to one of his young charges through the media.
“The guy’s got to produce, very simply,” Sutter emphasized. “He’s played what? 13 or 14 games? We need some more. We’ve given him some penalty-killing [time], trying to keep his minutes up.”
“He’s a smart player, but clearly, we’re going to need more, as we go forward, if we want to be a playoff team,” Sutter added. “I don’t spend a whole lot of time letting marginal minutes players off the hook. Either they’ve got it early in the game, or they don’t, and hopefully, I’ve made the right decision before the game.”
Shore was a healthy scratch at Winnipeg on March 1, a 5-2 loss. But from the looks of it, he is not likely to let that get to him.
“As time goes [on], you get more comfortable, and so it’s just a conscious effort every day, getting a little bit better, and hopefully, it translates,” he noted.
What does Shore think he needs to work on in order to improve?
“Just everything,” he said. “For me, being a center, it’s a 200-foot game, [and being] good in the face-off circle. It starts in your own end, and it carries on out.”
Raw Audio Interviews
(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):
Nick Shore (2:44)
Frozen Royalty’s Nick Shore Coverage
- LA Kings Center Prospect Nick Shore Doesn’t Stand Out, But That’s A Good Thing
- LA Kings Center Prospect Nick Shore Is “Still Looking To Get Things Going” This Season
- Even Without A First Round Pick, LA Kings Are Looking For Big Things From Their 2011 Draft Class
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