Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

What’s the difference between Curtis Lazar and Hunter Shinkaruk?

Waivers may end up forcing the Flames’ hands when it comes to putting together their starting roster for the 2017-18 season.

For most players, their waiver eligibility status doesn’t really change anything: they’d be in the NHL regardless. And for some, it may be useful. For example, if the Flames decide they want Jon Gillies or David Rittich to be their backup, they can do that: neither prospective goalie requires waivers, meaning both can be sent down and recalled as the team pleases.

That will no longer be the case for a handful of prospects, however.

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To be concerned with waivers – or not?

Two seasons ago, Joni Ortio’s waiver eligibility forced the Flames to keep three goalies on the roster. It turned out they really had no reason to do that. Ortio was eventually sent down to the AHL, and nobody claimed him. Why? Because every other team already had an Ortio of their own, and wasn’t going to disrupt their already existing goaltending tandems for an offshoot prospect.

Tyler Wotherspoon became waiver eligible this past season, and nobody claimed him. Why? Because every other team has their own Wotherspoon: a young, marginal defenceman with all of 26 NHL games played, and not somebody who presented enough upside to be worth placing on their immediate NHL roster. He passed through unclaimed because nobody felt he was an NHL-level defender.

Emile Poirier will require waivers this season. He’ll probably pass through them unclaimed, because why would an NHL team place a prospect who isn’t theirs, someone who has played all of six NHL games in the past, on their immediate roster? Who on another team is he going to displace? (And that’s not a knock on him – it’s more that every team has a Poirier, and though he had a promising rookie season and his outlook following this season now looks much more positive, it’s still a big ask of him to step in the NHL right away next season, for any team.)

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For the most part, waivers regarding borderline prospects aren’t exactly a concern. On occasion the handwringing may be justified, though.

Three this upcoming season

Brett Kulak, Curtis Lazar, and Hunter Shinkaruk will all require waivers to be sent down starting in 2017-18.

Kulak is less of a concern than the other two. He’s shown the most potential compared to any other Flames defensive prospect since probably T.J. Brodie, but it so happens that the Flames have three spots available on their backend (four, if Matt Bartkowski is sent down). And considering how Kulak spent roughly the same amount of time in the NHL as he did the AHL this past season, not to mention his general apparent competency at the NHL level – even if just in limited situations – he’s proven he does deserve a chance at the highest level. To risk losing someone who should already be in the NHL on a waiver claim would be faulty management.

(Of course, absolutely none of that matters if Vegas claims Kulak in the expansion draft, anyway: a distinct possibility.)

Comparing Lazar and Shinkaruk

Lazar and Shinkaruk are slightly different stories. Both are forward prospects from the first round of the 2013 NHL draft who were essentially traded for second round picks – Lazar for a 2017 second, and Shinkaruk for Markus Granlund, who was a 2011 second – but their careers to date are pretty different.

Lazar 13 180 4 39 .31 .22
Shinkaruk 188 15 117 4 .62 .27

Lazar has spent almost as much time in the NHL as Shinkaruk has in the AHL, and vice versa. If your preference defaults to the NHLer, then in theory, Lazar is your guy: he’s spent most of his career to date in the NHL, and considering the whole waivers situation, seems unlikely to return to the AHL, barring a conditioning stint. He hasn’t exactly shown much in the NHL, but some of that could be Ottawa’s fault for rushing him.

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Shinkaruk, on the other hand, has shown more, but at lower levels. His smaller NHL sample size should be discounted, but that’s real potential for offensive talent at the AHL level – including this past season, when things didn’t quite go to plan. AHL numbers don’t always translate, but at the same time are relevant. Via Christian Tiberi, his AHL numbers compare to names such as Patric Hornqvist, Colton Sceviour, Joe Colborne, Mike Hoffman, Matt Calvert, Jamie McGinn, Matt Halischuk, Michael Grabner, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, and Troy Brouwer: a wide range of talent that has some potential at being a top six player, but more likely to fall as a middle to bottom guy.

A bird in the hand may be worth two in the bush – but we aren’t exactly accounting for the quality of birds in that statement. Lazar is an NHLer because Ottawa decided he was one and left no room for correction. Does Lazar even have top six potential, or is his ceiling that of a third liner? And Shinkaruk? He still has the chance to prove he can be worth more – but it has to come pretty much now, lest another team not afford the Flames the chance to continue taking their time, essentially turning their second round pick into a waste.

And that’s the concern with protecting Lazar in the expansion draft, is it not?

    • Puckhead

      I don’t think we can speculate which player LV will take as they may pick a player and package him up in a side deal. Also don’t know if Tre and McPhee make some deals. This is what makes the expansion draft so intriguing – we have no idea what is being thought or discussed and there is a myriad of moving parts.

  • everton fc

    The position Vegas will be looking to fill, I think, is centre. We have Stajan, and Freddie, who can play pivot, as well as Lazar. If we don’t protect Lazar, I could see Vegas taking him, but we will certainly protect Lazar, unless we use him as trade bait for a forward we want and will protect. Could happen.

    I could also see Vegas taking Chiasson over Kulak. There are a lot of defenders available for Vegas. Not a lot of centres.

    As for the difference in Shinkaruk and Lazar – the article pretty much sums it up. But is there a difference? A fourth line of Shinkaruk/Jankowski/Lazar I’d like to see, but it also scares me as not being NHL-ready. And is Shinakruk better than Lomberg? I sometimes wonder, as Lomberg is an extremely quick skater. Skating isn’t Shinkaruk’s strength.

      • everton fc

        I’m with you on this one. He may even make it out of camp, though I know that’s a stretch. His speed and “truculence” will give him an edge over others on the farm. And I get a feeling if he figures out how to be more accurate w/his shot, he may surprise many people in the organization. At least that’s my hope, as I like his style of play.

  • oilersuck

    what do you mean regarding Porier when you say “though he had a promising rookie season and his outlook following this season now looks much more positive”? How is his outlook much more positive? Do we know what his leave was about?

      • King Quong

        He also reportedly lost a parent that’s all speculation the only thing we truly know is that he took a leave of absence for personal reasons and now his couch has said that he’s doing better.

        • Ari Yanover

          Sorry, trox is right – Treliving said at season ticket holder meetings that his leave was to go through substance abuse treatment. Nothing about dead parents. He went for treatment, he completed his treatment, and according to Treliving, is doing much better now.

          This is why we don’t speculate.

        • McRib

          Yeah, no need to speculate on anything other than the fact that clearly something was effecting him off the ice the last two years.

          Emile Poirier as a 20 year old had 0.76 PPG in the AHL, historically speaking the majority of all 20 year olds to put up 0.75+ PPG in the AHL become impactful NHLers. To be honest, Emiles world class skating and physicality is better suited than both Lazar and Shinkariuk as a bottom six forward in the NHL. I know people who watched Emile regularly in the QMJHL and they all said he had star potential. Hope he can figure it out.

  • Puckhead

    Unfortunately, Lazar might benefit from being sent down for a stint. When I make my fantasy lines for the Flames for this upcoming season he is not on it and is relegated to being the extra forward (because I can’t send him down).

    This transaction was definitely a risky move by Tre and still seems odd to me. I’m still wondering if Tre and McPhee might have cooked up a deal and, if so, we’ll find out soon enough. If he stays I’m hoping I’m wrong and he has untapped potential and a higher ceiling than he’s shown to this point.

    Shinkaruk ended his season well. As the saying goes “It’s time to ? or get off the ?.” Best of luck to him and I hope he has a great training camp.

  • T&A4Flames

    I still say that unless we move some bodies out, there really isn’t room for Shink. And given his now waiver eligibility I would look to add him in as a piece to get us a needed and more impactful player (top 6 RW, #4 D or starting G).

  • T&A4Flames

    Ok I have an idea and I would like people’s opinion and help to see if this makes any sense and how exactly it could be pulled off.
    It seems to me that there could be a 3 team deal that helps all teams. CGY needs a starting G, top 6 RW etc with definite room to protect at least the G
    NJD need a D going into next season and are rebuilding.
    MIN needs to shed salary and are at a serious risk of losing a very very good player for nothing.
    Does anyone see a way for NJD to trade Schneider to MIN for (likely) Brodin? Then we move a combination of prospects, picks (our 1st) and/or low cost NHL talent (like say, Chiasson, ) for Scneider and Niederreiter? I figure we could find a way to take back a bad contract like Pominville (2years @ $5.6 remaining). We could either buy Pommer out or arrange the trade so that getting Schneider and Niederreiter pre ex-draft, thus clearing a spot for MIN to protect their remaining top fwds (as its believed they would have to expose Zucker). Then post ex-draft we take Pommer and open up a ton of cap space for MIN.
    Can anyone put together a plausible trade scenario? Is this even a possibility? MIN is light on G prospects so I figure likely Gillies or possibly Rittich, our 1st, Shinkaruk (who could possibly get flipped to NJD as they’re light on offence and may see him as a young NHL ready depth scorer. I know it will take (much) more, but what? Our 2018 1st as well? Another prospect like Kylington? Thoughts? Ideas?

    • Baalzamon

      1. Brodin isn’t very good. The Devils would need a lot more coming their way in exchange for Schneider.
      2. Pominville is expensive (and old) but he’s still quite good. The Wild wouldn’t just give him away (more because they could get a better result just trading him somewhere–perhaps Arizona or Detroit–than because they’d actually want to keep him).
      3. Acquiring two pieces like Schneider and Niederreiter at once would basically clean the Flames out. I don’t think they have the pieces to orchestrate something like that and come away in a position to compete with anything like a future.
      4. This doesn’t solve Calgary’s defense problem, and after such a trade they would be in an even worse position on that front (because the trade would require probably both Kulak and either Kylington or Andersson, and they would no longer possess the trade pieces to correct that).

    • T&A4Flames

      Yes I would. It hurts but, if we were to acquire Nino, we would have to make a guy like Lazar available in the exp-draft so trading him for an upgrade makes sense. Moving our 1st hurts most I think but adding those pieces basically completes our rebuild and adds stability for several years, thus giving us time to make up for those lost prospects. And depending on the ‘A’ prospect we give up, we have a couple areas where we have good depth (like G). To me it seems worth it. Would you?

      • Puckhead

        The Flames need a #4D and goalies. Ferland, Tkachuk and Janko can battle for spots on the top 3 lines. Might be a good time to be patient, start the season with what we have, and see how things go. Why ship out a bunch of assets when there may not be a need?

      • Scary Gary

        Definitely, I think Lazar is replaceable, the prospect (depending on who) and the 16th overall pick would hurt but Niederreiter could be a perfect fit for this team (skilled, average to above average size, young, RW (although shoots left), etc.).

    • Longshot1977

      ‘Damn right I would. Neiderreiter is a known quantity. I would have some caveats.
      1. Even 16th overall is only like 50/50 to be an NHLer at all. No issues here.
      2. If component #2 is Lazar or Shink, go for it. There’s a very good chance neither are significant impact players.
      3. What “A” prospect? I’d be hesitant to give up either Kylington or Andersson just yet. Both have high potential, and remember, the Flames have big holes on the 2nd and 3rd pairing.

  • OKG

    Lazar was pretty good the last time he had a center (JG Pageau, 2014-15) so I know what the Flames see in him.

    Shinkaruk had some flashes under Hartley’s run n gun system but he has looked awful in Gulutzan’s dump and chase grindy system. Seeing as Gulutzan’s system = sustainable success I don’t see Hunter making the NHL squad. He can do a few things well but nothing exceptional. Not much vision, doesn’t fill a niche on our team, bad forechecker, terrible along the defensive boards…

    • Baalzamon

      Shinkaruk had some flashes under Hartley’s run n gun system but he has looked awful in Gulutzan’s dump and chase grindy system.

      … I’m pretty sure the Flames dumped and chased a lot more under Hartley than they did under Gulutzan.

      • OKG

        The Flames barely dumped and chased under Hartley. Even guys like Bouma brought the puck across with speed and open ice. Dump and chase happens when you don’t have numbers, under Hartley most of our entries were dependant on having a numbers advantage.

    • MarbledBlueCheese

      Hartleys system was predicated on the stretch pass and, if not successful, some sort of dump and chase. Gulutzan’s system is based on controlled zone entries and possession. As a skilled player it should fit Shinkaruk’s strengths.