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With training camps set to open league-wide in just over a month, unsigned free agents will soon be forced to take what they can get and accept professional tryouts.
This year's crop has already been picked apart pretty thoroughly but there are still some useful players available. At or near the top of the list – at least for me – is right-handed forward Nick Shore.
Shore tallied 19 points in 64 games (49 were with Los Angeles) last season, which equates to 24 over an 82-game schedule.
The year prior he put up 17 points in 70 games with the Kings. Decent enough numbers for a role player but certainly nothing to write home about.
So why do I think the Devils should bring him in for a look?
For starters, Shore's micro stats suggest he's been much better offensively than his counting numbers indicate. He ranks in the 96th percentile in terms of shot assists over the last two seasons.
If he's so good at creating shooting opportunities for his teammates, why don't his assist totals reflect that?
In 2016-17, the four forwards he played at least 140 minutes with were Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan, Dwight King, and Kyle Clifford. In 2017-18, Lewis and Andy Andreoff were the two guys to meet the criteria.
You're not going to pick up many assists playing with that cast of characters regardless of how many times you set them up.
Obviously, no team is going to give him an opportunity on a line with some of their top scoring talents. If anybody was willing to do that, he wouldn't be available right now. But if you were to put him in a depth role on the Devils, for example, alongside better finishers like Miles Wood and, heck, even Brian Boyle, his numbers would probably look better.
Beyond being an underrated playmaker, Shore is also a responsible defender who can help tilt the ice in his team's favor.
He has posted a 53.4% Corsi For% and 54.21 Expected Goals For% at 5v5 over the last two seasons. Those are really good numbers considering the linemates he has had to drag around.
I understand the Devils want to give long looks to the likes of Joey Anderson and Mikey McLeod in camp. I have no problem with that. I just don't see any harm in having an established player like Shore around as insurance in case they're not ready.
If not anything else, he'd provide good competition for the kids and would be an extra body to help the Devils reach the veteran limit in preseason games without overworking players locked into roster spots.
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