One of the more interesting players still available on the market is 25-year old center Nick Shore, who wasn’t issued a qualifying offer at the end of the year and became an unrestricted free agent. Many believed Shore would find a home quickly as a fourth-line or depth option, but as of today he wasn’t even listed as a camp invite anywhere around the league. James Mirtle of The Athletic though reports that Shore is “getting a lot of interest” around the league and could sign a contract soon. Mirtle also adds that he doesn’t believe the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the teams showing interest, but doesn’t go into detail on any that may be.
Shore was a third round selection by the Los Angeles Kings in 2011 out of the University of Denver, and quickly improved his stock with an outstanding sophomore season. The center put up 41 points in 43 games for DU that year and had no trouble continuing to score when he eventually moved into the minor league ranks. That’s where the offense ended though, as Shore only registered 49 points in 221 games with the Kings before being sent to the Ottawa Senators as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade in 2017-18. He didn’t spend much time in Ottawa though as Shore was quickly flipped to the Calgary Flames for a seventh-round pick just a few weeks later.
Perhaps that low return could have signaled the lack of confidence in Shore by the Flames and then the early free agent market, but the analytics community seems convinced that he could still provide some value to a team in a depth role. Even with drastically skewed defensive zone starts, Shore still put up positive shot stats in Los Angeles. That could be a byproduct of the Kings defense and system, but it seems worth it for a team to take a chance and find out. At the very worst Shore would represent an injury replacement with plenty of NHL experience, and at best he could perhaps hold down a center job full-time next season.