Let’s set the clock back to roughly 12 months ago. What do you remember?
It was a different time. Patrick Marleau was the Leafs’ biggest free agent signing. The Oilers were flying high upon clouds of postseason dreams and sink urination. And the Habs were doubling down in their steadfast belief that a then-nearing-free agency John Tavares would inevitably grant them an interview.
They didn’t even get in the room. Can you imagine? Oh, wait, I can, because it actually happened. Can’t relate.
Anyway, here’s Trevor Moore.
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Moore moved up from 15th in our 2017 Rankings.
On August 27th, 2017, a mention of “Trevor Moore” registered nary a blip amongst this fanbase.
Moore was merely an honourable mention, a name rarely uttered in the same sentence as his organization’s top prospects. Honestly, even I didn’t really know who Moore was a year ago, and I’ve since developed a borderline unhealthy obsession with the kid. I’m not proud of it. People change.
When you built the Trevor Moore hype train with your own two hands back in September & now everyone starts hopping on it pic.twitter.com/t0wsf6EH5q
— Mike Stephens (@mikeystephens81) May 6, 2018
Hindsight suggests we should have paid attention to Moore far earlier than we did. He’d given us reason to, at least.
The Thousand Oaks, California-native entered Leafs development camp as a glorified walk-on in 2016, emerging days later with none other than a freshly-inked ELC in both hands. That’s not an easy thing to do, folks. Back in 2013, every single NHL team – the Leafs included – had declined Moore’s services multiple times on the draft floor, and yet it took him all of a weekend of face time in front of Shannahan & Co. to earn himself a big league deal.
I’m just saying, maybe we should have seen this breakout coming.
Floating in undrafted limbo, Moore neglected to give up in his pursuit of a professional career and took his talents to
South Beach the University of Denver, a school whose hockey program was overseen at the time by recently appointed-Dallas Stars head coach, Jim Montgomery. It was a perfect fit.
Moore’s tenure at Denver can be considered only as an unbridled success, nonetheless hinting towards the presence of the electric contributor Moore would one day reveal himself to be.
Scoring at an above-point-per-game pace in two of his three seasons, Moore proceeded to spend his senior year leading the program to a 2016 appearance in the Frozen Four, Denver’s first in over a decade. Not only did Montgomery deploy Moore in the manner befitting of a featured offensive weapon, his minutes came almost exclusively against the best his opposition could offer.
Per this wonderful piece by PPP’s Katya Knappe, Moore faced a higher quality of defender than nearly the entirety of his Pioneer teammates along that magical Frozen Four run, next only to Quentin Shore. In spite of all this, Moore apparently developed an immunity to the typical offensive side effects becoming of his heightened QoC and wound up finishing 3rd in team scoring.
Not too shabby.
Comparing players to one another, especially in instances when one of them lacks actual NHL experience, is a risky endeavour. The translation of success between levels bears influence from a number of factors, be it product of environment, specific role, or benefit from a particular system.
That being said, Moore falls closest into the archetype of a Zach Hyman.
The pair share a swiss army knife ability to perform any role asked of them, primarily resulting in heavy minutes on the penalty kill along with a generous dose of matchups against top competition. Both Moore and Hyman are terrific defensive players in their own right as well, ones who are rarely, if ever, get caught out of position. They seamlessly fit the Babcockian mould, their playing styles equal parts responsible and earnest enough to force their coach to shed heavy Saskatchewan tears.
Where I see the two differ, however, is in their individual ceilings.
Moore is a far more dynamic player than Hyman, possessing an extra step of footspeed and offensive instinct lacking in the latter. Whereas both exhibit their fair share of rough and tumble, board battle-centric tendencies, Moore can do this.
His offensive timing just appears more fluid than Hyman’s. Which brings us to…
It’s easy to glance at Moore’s lack of offensive progression from 2016-17 to 2017-18 and write him off as a disappointment. Only, doing so would be to ignore the arsenal of value he otherwise brings.
Take a gander at those postseason splits, baby. Now THAT’S progress.
To put it lightly, Moore’s performance in rounds 1 through 4 was nothing short of monstrous, so much so that I ended up pledging my vote to him for Calder Cup MVP. His 17 points in 20 games were good enough to land him 4th in league-wide postseason scoring and 2nd on the Marlies, behind only Andreas Johnsson.
It was a long time coming. Following a season of trusting the process to quiet results, emboldened only by Moore’s unwavering refusal to sacrifice team responsibility for boxscore glory, he was inevitably rewarded for his efforts on the biggest stage possible.
With Leafs brass in attendance, night after night, Moore forced them into paying attention.
As Seen on TV
What can I say? It speaks for itself.
2018-19 Season Outlook
Remember how, a year ago, Moore was nothing but an afterthought? Yeah, not anymore.
When training camp rolls around in September, Moore will arrive in the unique position of holding a legitimate shot at NHL employment. While he may not be expected to leapfrog veteran competition in Tyler Ennis and Josh Leivo (who are we kidding? Leivo ain’t making it), little was expected of him back in 2016 as well. Look what happened.
All Moore needs is a chance. Give him one and he’s proven time and again that he’ll take it as far as his legs will carry him. By all accounts, those legs appear to be carrying Moore en route to a spot within the Leafs roster.
I doubt they change course anytime soon.