Oh, Hunter, we hardly knew ye.
At least to start this season, that was especially true. When injuries hit the Flames, they recalled Hunter Shinkaruk. He played seven of a possible 16 games, averaging just 10:35 in ice time over their course. He scored one assist while he was up, and that was about it.
In short, he wasn’t doing much in the NHL during this recall, not that he was given much of a chance to. That’s probably why the Flames have returned Shinkaruk to the AHL’s Stockton Heat.
This was a move that’s been a long time coming, particularly as the Flames have started to get healthier and Shinkaruk was continuing to sit and not play.
Projected to be more of a skilled forward than a grinder or mucker, Shinkaruk was rarely given the opportunity – and, now that Johnny Gaudreau is back, there’s officially no real room for him on this roster.
Shinkaruk started off by playing three games in a row on his recall, receiving fourth line minutes and generating a total of two shots. He was then scratched for the next three games, going a week without playing before he got back in the lineup – and, again, played fourth line minutes.
He was in and out of the lineup over the course of the road trip, and his most common linemates were Matt Stajan, Freddie Hamilton, and Alex Chiasson, to give you an idea of how he was used.
In short: he wasn’t really at all. Considering how Shinkaruk is probably one of the Flames’ better offensive prospects – he had seven points in seven games for the Heat before being recalled, and 89 points in 143 AHL games (a .62 point per game player) – this recall maybe didn’t make the best possible use of Shinkaruk. Contrast it to the seven games he played for the Flames in 2015-16, in which he averaged 15:44 a game and mostly played with Sean Monahan and Gaudreau and, well.
So it’s a good thing the Flames have returned him to the AHL, where he should receive top six minutes and be put in a position to succeed once again. The next time he gets an opportunity, hopefully the Flames will be willing to trust him more – and hopefully he’ll force their hands to make them, too.
The Flames now have 14 forwards up with the big club. This includes Garnet Hathaway, the lone remaining recall, and Lance Bouma, who, like Gaudreau, recently returned to practice wearing a regular jersey (that is to say, not non-contact). By demoting Shinkaruk, Bouma can now officially be activated off of the injured reserve.