The Dallas Stars have avoided arbitration with one of their restricted free agents, inking Devin Shore to a two-year contract that carries a $2.3MM average annual value. Shore was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on July 20th, but will instead re-sign with the Stars for a substantial raise on his expiring entry-level contract.
The biggest question with Shore is how does he fit into the Stars forward group long-term? Drafted and developed as a center, he was mostly moved away from the position during the 2016-17 season and struggled to produce much even-strength offense last year. With just 19 of his 32 points coming in that situation, the Stars will need more from him now that he’s carrying a much larger cap hit. He does have value on the powerplay and penalty kill, but after posting poor possession statistics and a team-worst -30 rating (Martin Hanzal was the next lowest at -14) he’ll need to perform better in the bulk of his minutes.
That improvement might come with the new coaching staff, as Shore was obviously one of the players who struggled under Ken Hitchcock’s system. Jim Montgomery, who comes in with no previous NHL coaching experience, will need to get the most out of players like Shore if he has any chance of turning things around for the Stars. It’s not clear if Shore will move back to the middle of the ice, but with Blake Comeau and Valeri Nichushkin coming in to add some depth on the wings it seems a distinct possibility.
Shore will still be a restricted free agent at the end of the deal, and will turn 24 in a few days. There is more than enough time for him to grow into a force for the team, but he’ll have to do it in a hurry to remain in their long-term plans and set himself up for a big contract in the summer of 2020. For now we’ll have to wait and see how Montgomery tries to utilize him, before deciding whether this contract is worth it for the former University of Maine standout.