FlamesNation Prospect Profile #2: Hunter Shinkaruk

FN2

Somehow, the Calgary Flames traded Markus Granlund for Hunter Shinkaruk. They traded an older kid who looked to have about reached his potential for a younger prospect with a higher ceiling. And that was it; it was just a one-for-one swap.

That was back in February. It’s September. I still don’t get it.

The hometown forward is a Flame now, though. He’s only played eight NHL games so far, but we’re pretty hopeful for him.

A brief history

Shinkaruk is 21 years old. He’s one day younger than Sean Monahan, in fact, so the sooner they’re on the same team full time, the sooner they can have joint birthday parties or whatever.

He’s also listed as 5’11, 181 lbs., so he is a bit on the smaller side – not that that’s stopped certain players before. And considering how, in 2015-16, he was the Utica Comets’ leading scorer when he was traded – and actually finished the season as their second-highest scorer, with the only guy above him being three years older – he clearly has what it takes to play professionally.

Read more: A closer look at Hunter Shinkaruk

And we’re thinking that professional level will be in the NHL sooner rather than later. He can score and he’ll battle for the puck; now, we just need to see him take it to the next level on a consistent basis. And this year very well could be the year that happens. Maybe not at the very start – but also, maybe yes?

Quotable

What does Shinkaruk need to do in order to become a regular NHLer? We asked Ryan Huska:

“Consistency, I think that’s one big thing. When the young guys come to the NHL, they have to find a way to bring the same thing everyday – to practice, to their games, to their off-ice workouts, to how they handle themselves away from the rink – and then you have to prove yourself daily, and that’s a big challenge for those young guys when they’re trying to break in on a full-time basis. And once they do have that opportunity, they have to take advantage of it.

“For Hunter, a lot of that comes down to consistency as well. He’s a guy that’s very driven. He loves to score goals. He enjoys being at the rink and he has fun around his teammates on the ice. For him, it’s taking advantage of his opportunities that are going to be in front of him. When he gets his chance to generate some offence, we’d like to see him to generate some offence, but again being a very competitive guy around the net and working well with his linemates are things that will help him.”

It sounds like Shinkaruk is really a “when, not if” kind of guy. And Future Considerations scout Scott Wheeler can see him becoming a legitimate top six option for the Flames:

“Shinkaruk has been through a lot in the last year and a half, but he has come out of it as a force in the AHL despite still being lean. When he has the puck on his stick he’s dangerous and everyone on the ice recognizes it. You’ll often see defenders try and close in on him too quickly and overcompensate in order to attempt to take away his space.

“If he can continue to improve his skating, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him slowly work his way from being a depth scoring threat to being an actual option in an NHL top six. If Calgary is prepared to make room for him, he has the ability to be full-time this year.”

What comes next?

The Flames should have a spot or two open next season, and Shinkaruk is expected to challenge for one. Better yet for him, the Flames are lacking in legitimate top six wingers – and if he can reach his ceiling, he’ll help fill that hole.

So the expectation for Shinkaruk is to achieve that. Still with two years left on his entry deal, there’s plenty of time, but the sooner he can make it the better: both for his team, and, well, for him.

Read more: FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Hunter Shinkaruk

A position switch may even be in the cards for him. Shinkaruk is a left winger, which automatically puts him behind Johnny Gaudreau on the depth chart. However, the Flames did just draft Matthew Tkachuk back in June, another left winger. However however, Tkachuk has said he’s comfortable playing both sides of the ice; however however however, Shinkaruk did end his 2015-16 season by playing on the right side with Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

Read more: Hunter Shinkaruk the Flames; lone emergency recall still up

So the Flames do have a few options as they look to fill out their top six forward ranks. But hopefully Shinkaruk will officially be a part of them by this time next year – or at least, force their hand in protecting him from the expansion draft. Because chances are, he’s got it in him.

Previously

#20Ryan Culkin #19Linus Lindstrom
#18Morgan Klimchuk #17Mason McDonald
#16Brett Pollock #15Matthew Phillips
#14Dillon Dube #13Emile Poirier
#12Brett Kulak #11Mark Jankowski
#10Brandon Hickey #9Daniel Pribyl
#8Adam Fox #7Tyler Parsons
#6Andrew Mangiapane #5Oliver Kylington
#4Rasmus Andersson #3Jon Gillies
  • piscera.infada

    On one hand, I wouldn’t put him as the #2 prospect in the organisation, yet I will agree he’s probably the most NHL ready prospect, and thus is worthy of a high ranking.

    That said, I still have very high hopes for Shinkaruk this season. I do think he can be an effective rookie. If I were making the lines, I’m probably slotting him in with Backlund and Frolik to start the year anyway. Let him gain some confidence, then pair him with Bennett and watch the magic commence.

    • BurningSensation

      My top 10

      1. Tkachuk
      2. Gillies
      3. Andersson
      4. Kyllington
      5. Shinkaruk
      6. Mangiapane
      7. Pribyl
      8. Jankowski
      9. Fox
      10. Dube

      Tkachuk: a goalscoring, playmaking, power forward off the Gordie Howe tree. We used to have.a guy like that round here, so his role should be familiar.

      Gillies: Elite size, reflexes, and positioning. Has been the best goaltender at every level he’ s played at, and he did it with torn up hips (now fixed). Strong argument that Tkachuk has shiney-new-toy syndrome, and that Gillies is the legit top prospect in the system. Future #1 goalie.

      Andersson is like finding uranium, even if you can’t use it, he’ll be extremely valuable. A right shot defenseman with strong offensive numbers and a hint of Zubov like Zen calmness on the ice, he’ll be a valuable chip in any trade, or, as a future mid-pairing defender.

      Kyllington: has a much higher ceiling than Andersson, but has a much less complete game. Could be the steal of his draft, or dominate a Swiss Tier II league.

      Shinkaruk: He’s a scoring winger or bust, which puts him and Tkachuk in direct competition (neither is unseating Gaudreau) for 2nd unit LW. If Tkachuk or Shinkaruk can switch to the RW, they would still have to beat out Brouwer, Frolik, Pribyl, or Chiasson, and all of those guys bring more to the table than just offense.

      Mangiapane: Has a little Pat Verbeek in him.

      Pribyl: I’m a sucker for the foreign born/trained import who comes out of nowhere narrative, but Pribyl has good reason for the Flames to be excited. He was the best player in the Czech elite league (slightly below AHL?), but is still just 23. He can play C or R, and he has size and scoring ability. The Flames are thin at RW for prospects (Poirier is the other), and Pribyl comes pre-marinated.

      Jankowski: Big, strong, fast, defensively responsible, and good at face-offs. What’s not to like? The most polarizing of draft picks, he’s been on the slow development train since he was taken, and it looks like that train is about to arrive at the station. I would not be shocked, at all, if he makes the team and bumps Stajan to the wing. I also would not be shocked at all if he spends the whole year in Stockton.

      Fox: Cerebral puck slinging defender in the Brian Ralaski mode. Harvard smart. Set records for offense with USNTD. A ludicrously good third round pick.

      Dube: I had Poirier in my top 10 for the longest time, but Dube is my shiney-new-toy. He looks to be a steal in the 2nd round as he flashes first round talent, and projects as an offensive centerman. He’s smart, funny, and pissed off. If he blows up the WHL next year, don’t be surprised.

        • BurningSensation

          I might have him in the top 20 prospects, but definitely outside the top 10.

          The Flames scouts thought more of guys like Mathew Phillips than they did of Burke, so he’s a longshot, albeit an intriguing one.

      • OKG

        Decent list, certainly better than FN’s joke of a list. Although still off IMO.

        1A) Jankowski
        1B) Kylington
        1C) Tkachuk
        4) Andersson
        5) Shinkaruk
        6A) Gillies
        6B) McDonald
        8) Mangiapane
        9) Hickey
        10) Kulak
        11) Poirier
        12) Parsons
        13) Ollas-Mattsson
        14A) Dube
        14B) Fox
        16) Wotherspoon
        17) Pribyl
        18) Klimchuk
        19) Falkovsky
        20) Philips

  • Burnward

    I was excited about our prospects until he was number two.

    Thanks guys!

    Kidding, obviously. But he isn’t in my top five. Definitely better than Markus though.

  • The Fall

    So the GM traded a third line, bouble, call-up for our number 2 prospect…

    Either BT is the greatest GM of all time; we have the weakest prospect pool of all time; or your rankings may be a bit off.

    • Craig

      Or Benning is the worst GM in the NHL…

      I think that Shinkaruk deserves this spot, he’s a proven scorer in the AHL, looked really good in the NHL and has a high ceiling.

      I hope he gets a good look with Johnny and Monny to start.

      • RickT

        Your assessment is bang on. We did not have a higher scorer in our prospect pool last season.

        He is our most NHL-ready forward prospect, with a high ceiling, as judging by the numbers he put up in the A.

        Very clear #2 choice.

    • Baalzamon

      David Poile acquired Filip Forsberg in exchange for Martin Erat. From the guy who is now GM of Las Vegas.

      Bad trades happen all the time. But I agree with Burnward (and you) on this: Crookshanks is too high. I had him sixth (behind Tkachuk, Gillies, Kylington, Andersson, and Mangiapane).

  • The Fall

    1-Matt: Highest ceiling

    2-Andrew: Second highest ceiling

    3-Ras: Best defenseman

    4-Oliver: Second best defenseman

    5-Jon: Best goalie

    6-10: toss-up

    11-20: voodoo

  • @OKG
    If Janko is what you say he is than it’s resonable to say he will force his way on this team this year. If he doesn’t play more than 7 games with the Flames this year is it safe to say he’s not what you think he is and you will let your Janko love train go?

    Janko will be lucky if he’s a 3C within in the next 5 years.
    And if he turns out to be that hey great. I’ll count that as a win for the Flames. He’s not a 1c and he never will be. BUT good luck with that.

    • OKG

      Um we have three top two line caliber centres in Backlund, Monahan, and Bennett. Jankowski might not play a single game for us next season, as long as he has an obsevably strong year in Stockton he’ll stay right where he is on my list. They’re not going to put a natural centre at LW/RW and stall his development. They’re also not going to play him ten minutes a game on the fourth line.

      Bennett is better than Jankowski and Monahan and will be better than Backlund. Don’t think I’ve ever said otherwise.

      Backlund is better right now than all the other centres on the team.

      Monahan for now is better than Jankowski at elusive goal scoring, which makes him a good fit with Gaudreau and tough to knock out of his spot

      How many games Jankowski plays depends on injuries to our centres. It has nothing to do with how good he is. Kylington is also unlikely to play many games for the same reason, which again speaks little to his long term projection.

      Shinkaruk and Tkachuk are much more likely to make the team, they are wingers and we have holes on the wing. But that doesn`t necessarily prove they are better prospects. There are Eight wing spots (two unlikely for a prospect). Six defense spots (two unlikely for a prospect). Four centre spots (one unlikely for a prospect). Two goaltender spots (generally both unlikely for a prospect until it`s waivers time). And even at the same position, making the team first (Backlund/Monahan) does not mean you have a higher ceiling in your prime (Bennett/Jankowski). I’m not a prophet, maybe I’m wrong. But I’m also not so conceited and impatient as to put shorter timeline (4 years) on a prospect’s development than the team publicly did (5+ years, since the day he was drafted).

  • Just.Visiting

    I have two distinct comments on this article, so I’ll post them separately.

    The first is that I don’t understand what Vancouver was thinking with that trade!!

    I was higher on Granlund than most here, but realized that he didn’t have much of a future with the Flames. I hope that things work out for him in Vancouver (but that he doesn’t get to see any playoff action any time soon).

    After seeing Hunter late in the year, I was very pleasantly surprised.

    If I contrast him with Sven or any of the other Stockton forward callups over the last few years, the most striking difference to me was how much he wants the puck and is otherwise willing to be involved in the play by going into the dirty areas of the ice. Given his skill level, I think that the compete factor is what makes him one of our top prospects.

    He should be in the top 9 and on his way to a good, long NHL career if he keeps that up-preferably with the Flames, of course.

    I hope that the depth signings and PTOs don’t impact his chances of making the team.

    I agree with what another poster had noted yesterday about needing to see this year what Hunter could do at the NHL level.

  • Just.Visiting

    My second comment is with respect to the overall rankings.

    In terms of who’s closest, I see Hunter as our number two prospect.

    If, on the other hand, I look at the prospect rankings as a proxy for how we would pick our prospects if we did a draft that looked at both the near-term and the longer-term, I think we have three tiers of prospects.

    I see Tkachuk and then (in whatever order) Jon, Ras and Oliver as the top four elite prospects, based on what we know today.

    Then I see another tier that includes Hunter and the current prospects down to number 11 (Janko), where the prospects are particularly intriguing and project out as potentially very good players, where some (e.g., Parsons) could be regarded as elite once they’re a bit further along in their development.

    I can see Hunter being at the top of that list today. I could also possibly see Janko being at the top of that list at the end of training camp, although I recognize that he could also be at the bottom of that list then too if those with concerns are right about his limits.

    What continues to be particularly encouraging is how much better the prospects than had been the case even three years ago.

    Some of the players outside the top 11 would have easily been in our top 5 then.

    I think that we have a lot to which to look forward.

    • The Fall

      Hunter has had chances with two teams and is still a call up, working for a job. Top prospects have the talent to grab the opportunity and there’s no mistake when they hit the NHL.

      He’s gone from top line potential to middle six ceiling. Not saying he can’t keep up with Johhny and Sean, but he’s not the reason they score a ton of points.

      I’m happy he’s in the system.

      But I’ll give higher ‘prospect’ cred to kids who haven’t stumbled yet.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    What chance did vancouver give hunter? Are you talking about his one game? He was very impressive in his time up with the flames and a top scorer in the ahl.

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    31 pts for shinkaruk in 74 games his rookie season and 39 in 45 games the next season shows a great improvement in a prospect. He deserved more than a one game call up before being traded for a player who failed over and over to make an impact. Unless you were talking about granlund?

  • The Real Slim Brodie

    I’m just wondering how you can sit there and say he has stumbled? You need a true opportunity with a team before being judged. Also nobody is penciled into Olympics it’s the world cup of hockey. He doesn’t have to turn into gaudreau to be a top prospect.