In 67 games last season, James Sheppard scored four goals and recorded 16 assists. He was very productive in the postseason with two goals and four assists in seven games.
His Year In Review
A couple of seasons ago, Sheppard seemed destined to be nothing but a draft bust, his career seemingly thrown away.
The ninth overall pick of the 2009 draft by the Wild, Sheppard did not produce much his first three seasons in the NHL, recording just 19, 24, and six points, respectively. Before the 2010 season, it got way worse when he fractured his knee in an ATV accident. He missed the entire 2010-2011 season, then was traded to the Sharks in the offseason for a third round pick, and spent the entire 2011-2012 season rehabbing from surgery.
At that point, it wouldn’t have been a stretch to predict that Sheppard would play very little, if at all, in the NHL again. But he came out very strong the next season in the minors, and the Sharks called him up. He had just four points in 32 games in the 2012-2013 season, this past season, he proved that not only should he be back in the NHL, but he is here to stay.
Sheppard was a mainstay on the Sharks’ checking lines. He may not possess the skill set of a dynamic forward, but he makes do with what he does have, and that’s a lot of tenacity and grit. He works hard on the boards and does a lot of the dirty work that third or fourth liners have to do to be successful. Sheppard understands his role. He is no longer that hot shot top draft pick; instead, he is a solid bottom-six forward who can add much-needed depth to any team.
All of that work paid off in the postseason, when Sheppard played in all seven games against the Kings and performed extremely well. He finished tied for second on the team in points with Joe Pavelski, and more than solidified his spot on the Sharks’ roster next season.
This is just a glimpse of what Sheppard could have been, or what the Wild envisioned him to be when they drafted him ninth overall. Here, in a game against the Capitals, he intercepts pass at his own blue line, builds up speed on a breakaway, and finishes past the goaltender with a nice, soft backhand.