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Maple Leafs are expected to sign Nick Shore

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Last summer he was on everyone’s list of depth additions the Leafs should consider, and he ended up... well, that’s a story.

Calgary Flames v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images

Nick Shore, rumoured to be about to be signed by the Maple Leafs, is one of those players that everyone seems to like out of proportion to the fondness a depth centre usually enjoys.

Oh, yes, this one isn’t a winger. This rumoured signing is for an actual bona fide centre.

Shore turns 27 later on this year, and he is an average-sized NHLer who shoots right. That right there is why he was on all the lists last year, and likely the year before, of players the Leafs should target. Mike Babcock has made no secret that he likes a right-shooting centre to take faceoffs on the fourth line and during PK to augment the left-shooting wingers that seem to be in abundance. The Leafs are believers in strong side faceoffs, which is why you see William Nylander in the dot so much with all those lefty centres up the lineup.

The trouble is, righty centres of any calibre are hard to find, and over the last few years, the depth kind seem to be almost impossible to locate. Last year, the Leafs tried Josh Jooris (likely to go play in Europe this year) and Adam Cracknell, and they both spent their seasons in the AHL, although Cracknell did crack the Ducks lineup for two games after he was traded. The depth signing who succeeded was a winger, Tyler Ennis.

This summer, once again the Leafs are fishing for depth centres, and it doesn’t matter if they don’t stick in the NHL, because the Marlies aren’t exactly stacked either. Enter Shore.

Shore was drafted in 2011 by the Kings in the third round, and he stayed at DU in the NCAA for two more productive years, and then played on the Kings AHL team for a year and a half before he cracked the NHL. He played three and a half seasons in LA topping out at 14 minutes of all situations time per game in his last year, 2017-2018. He was traded to Ottawa in the Dion Phaneuf trade, and the Senators flipped him to the Calgary Flames after only six games played.

In the summer of 2018, the surprise was no one wanted this depth guy with a proven track record. And then in October, well after the KHL season had begun, he was signed by Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

Magnitka, a very good team, usually, finished in third place in the East, and promptly got beat in the first round of the playoffs. Shore had 16 points in 37 games and played over 16 minutes per game in all situations. He got 19 minutes per game in the playoffs, but he just didn’t shoot at a high rate, not like most former NHLers in the KHL do. He only had five goals in total.

He is and was a depth player, with depth player skills, and he didn’t suddenly blossom in eastern Russia. He was just Nick Shore, same as he ever was.

But what can he bring to the Leafs? Will he even make the Leafs?

That was in reference to Kenny Agostino, and he’s not wrong exactly, but I will give it a try this summer. But for now, the quick and dirty on Shore is that he’s not a goal scorer. Which you could have figured out by his minutes played.

Evolving Hockey

Yeah, that’s a depth guy. That’s an elite depth guy with everything good happening defensively. But what about lately, what about his last season?

Not as good as the peak LA years, but it’s close, and I’ll take it.

HockeyViz shows his career in the same light, but also has him as a very good PK player while being poor at drawing penalties. You don’t draw penalties on the Leafs, anyway, so no matter.

Good depth guy, and a good signing, if this becomes official. We’ll update you when we know more.