Flamesnation Player Evaluations: Hunter Shinkaruk

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises last season was the Tim Erixon trade continuing to pay dividends for the Flames in new and strange ways. Markus Granlund, the decent-ish 2011 second rounder who had proven himself too good for the AHL and too meh for a top six NHL role, was traded for 2013 first round pick Hunter Shinkaruk.

Let’s have a look at how his brief time in Calgary and slightly longer time in Stockton went this season!

SEASON SUMMARY


I think most Flames fans were pretty clear on what the Flames were getting when they acquired Shinkaruk from Vancouver: a quick, shifty, goal-scorer with a sharp release and a nose for the net. However, what was surprising about Shinkaruk’s play when he was called up to the Flames was his ability to play nasty, something that likely kept him in the lineup repeatedly in the waning days of the season last year. 

During Shinkaruk’s time in Calgary, he managed three points in seven games, including a pair of rather greasy goals that typified his hard-nosed play. Shinkaruk is generously listed online at 5’11 and 180 lbs, though he certainly is not as small as he was advertised after his draft.

In parts of three seasons in the AHL Shinkaruk has shown that he can score goals, totalling 43 goals in 136 games so far. Make no mistake, goal-scoring is a big part of Shinkaruk’s game and the Flames clearly hope that he can translate his success at the AHL and WHL level into the NHL.

However, if Shinkaruk is willing to continue heading to nasty areas to score goals, I’m not so sure it matters how big he is at all. Shinkaruk seems to possess an ability to put the puck in the net and that is something that the Flames don’t have a lot of in their system. Hopefully, if given a proper opportunity, Shinkaruk may be able to score using his shot as well and earn a larger role with the Flames next season. 

IMPACT ON TEAM

Let’s take a look at how Shinkaruk did in his 17 game sample with Stockton, a place he probably wants to avoid next season:

stockton ppg1

stockton ppg2

As you can see, Shinkaruk was able to generate shots and points at roughly the same level as Stockton’s other top performers (other than Derek Grant, who was simply too darn good this year). Shinkaruk scored 12 points (six goals and six assists) in 17 games with the Heat, a rate of 0.71 ppg which is slightly lower than the rate he was scoring at with the Utica Comets prior to the trade (0.81 ppg).

Being able to acquire Shinkaruk was, in my estimation, a fabulous trade for the Flames as they likely had run out of options for Markus Granlund and in exchange they were able to help address the deficiency of skill that currently faces their system.

At times during his brief NHL call-up, Shinkaruk played some right wing, which included time on a line with Monahan and Gaudreau. This raised a great deal of eyebrows because even though he is a natural left winger, finding a right winger with speed and goal scoring prowess would be a dream for the Flames next season. Ask Chicago, who played Patrick Kane with Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov throughout this season, if playing with two skilled, small wingers is a bad idea.

Even though the sample size was insanely small sample this season, Shinkaruk’s three points all involved Monahan or Gaudreau (assisting on a T.J. Brodie goal with Monahan, Monahan assisting on his first NHL goal, and Gaudreau assisting on his second). 

By far, Shinkaruk played most often with Monahan (57 of his 101 total on-ice minutes) so it was obvious that Hartley wanted to see what he had with Shinkaruk in a top six role. Clearly this small sample isn’t enough time together to say unequivocally that the three are going to be successful, but at least the puck went in the net, I suppose. 

Presently, the Flames are facing a rather sticky situation cap-wise next year and may be forced to ice a much more cost-effective roster. For that reason alone, Shinkaruk may receive a long, healthy chance to prove he can stick at the NHL level next season, especially due to his modest successes in a micro-sample this year. 

  • beloch

    Shinkaruk’s NHLE: (including playoffs)
    2010/2011 (WHL): 14.7
    2011/2012 (WHL): 30.5
    2012/2013 (WHL): 28.3
    2013/2014 (WHL): 19.7
    2014/2015 (AHL): 8.4
    2015/2016 (AHL): 31.7

    When you look at his numbers, you can see why Vancouver may have soured on Shinkaruk. After being drafted in 2013, he took a big step backwards in his final junior season, although that was likely due to a hip injury he was playing through. Then he seemed to hit a brick wall transitioning to the AHL, although it would have been difficult to jump into a pro league after missing half a season due to injury. The 2015/2016 season was a huge improvement for Shinkaruk, but it’s very possible Benning had already made up his mind about the kid, as evidenced by his comments that he didn’t think Shinkaruk was a player who would be able to score at the NHL level.

    While you generally want to see year-over-year progression in a prospect’s NHLE, Shinkaruk’s hip injury does plausibly explain the huge dip in his production. Hopefully Shinkaruk can stay healthy and prove Benning wrong about his NHL scoring ability. I liked what I saw in the few games he spent with the Flames. He was not sheltered like a rookie at all, but he still managed to make an impact. He has a realistic chance of making the Flames out of camp this October.

  • Slowmo

    Sorry guys but I predict Nylander and shin with Bennett next season and Mang on the top line. Talk about Kane and anrtemi watch JH and Mang it is going to be a school of skill out there and the top defenders will not be able to contain them. Ohh and Rasmus with Dougie on the back end we will have 2 top lines front and back that will put all of oilchucks first rounder’s to shame. I also predict Kulack and Hickey trolling on the back end as well. Wides is gone perhaps we will resign Nakladal. The party is on 😉

  • The Fall

    I loved this trade.

    Not only is Hunter more suited to an offensive role. He’s younger and resets the clock somewhat on the ability to move in and out of the A.

    Benning is confounding…

  • Jake the Snail

    Off the topic but Kirk Muller was hired as Associate Coach with the Habs. The 50-year-old Muller was particularly strong in handling special teams when he was with the Canadiens, an area where the team has struggled in recent years.

    Allright Tre, quit dragging your feet on hiring a new coach! We may end up with Randy Carlyle as our head man. Arrrrgh!

    Less dramatic statement: Muller may have been heading to Montreal any how because of his history with the team….

  • freethe flames

    Shinkaruk is a nice piece to have added and has a chance to make the opening night lineup.

    When is BT allowed to announce the buy outs? 2 nights after the Stanley Cup is awarded? Go Pittsburg GO. Not because I really care but because I want to see action that impacts the Flames.

    BT it’s okay to make news during the playoffs other teams are doing it.

  • everton fc

    I truly believe Shinkaruk will make the team out of camp and have a very good year. He’s a natural left wing; why not slot him on the LW w/Bennett?

    Still… outside Frolik… We are thin on the right-side. That #6 pick – Nylander or move it for a RW like McCarron/pick….

    • Bananaberg

      Fingers crossed that the great value test contract on Pribyl turns into a Top 9 RW for us.

      Does Grant play RW? I think he deserves a steady spot on the 4th line. Plays hard and still trying to earn his way. That’s the right recipe for a 4th liner.

      Additional thought: Eaves is UFA in Dallas and has solid numbers to warrant a 3rd line RW role. I could see him playing with Backlund pretty easily. If we can snag him for less than $1.5/yr (max 3 years), that’d be a good value addition to shore up the RW.

  • RedMan

    I believe that with the expansion draft, there will be some sort of cap flexibility… I haven’t heard anything, but i would assume they will build some latitude into the cap with a big expansion draft shake up.

    I think it is really important to get the goalie in place this year, regardless of what they expect from Gillies in the future, in what appears to be the last “planned” year of rebuild. We need to see what the team actually looks like and what it needs, besides the obvious #1RW. last years sh$tshow with goalies delrailed the entire year and made it difficult to see what the team really has.

    on another note, i wouldn’t mind seeing Prust back in a flaming C. isn’t he floating without a contract?