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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects: #13 Hunter Shinkaruk

Things seemed to be on the upswing for Hunter Shinkaruk when he joined the Flames organization last year. His sophomore effort in the AHL helped to resuscitate his stock as a quality offensive prospect thanks to his 27 goals and 51 points.

Unfortunately for Calgary and the player, Shinkaruk took a step back rather than forward in 2016-17. The lack of progression not only dropped Shinkaruk 11 spaces on our prospect list (from two to 13), but put his future with the organization in doubt.

A brief history

Once upon a time, Shinkaruk was considered a potential top 10 talent. In his draft-1 season, the Calgary native scored 49 goals and 91 points for the Medicine Hat Tigers, second only to the much older Emerson Etem.

The rest of Shinkaruk’s junior career was plagued by inconsistency and injury. He fell to the Canucks at 24th overall in the 2013 entry draft and then spent almost all of the 2013-14 season in the infirmary. More questions arose about Shinkaruk when he failed to make an impact as an AHL rookie. His totals that year weren’t bad per se (16 goals, 31 points in 76 games), but they weren’t good enough to erase many of the doubts that had been raised about his NHL viability.

The Canucks and Flames decided to trade question marks the next season, when the two rivals hooked up to swap Shinkaruk for Markus Granlund. The latter had proven to be an excellent minor league player for Calgary but had failed to take the next step at the NHL level, whereas Shinkaurk was younger and coming off a notable sophomore effort.

At the time the gamble made sense for both teams, but so far it has worked out better for Vancouver. Granlund seems to have found his NHL legs and turned into a capable middle rotation player for the Canucks. In contrast, Shinkaruk’s numbers fell back down to his rookie output (15 goals, 35 points in 52 games). In addition, his few forays at the NHL level for Calgary have not been notable.

Quotable

The Toronto Star’s Scott Wheeler places Shinkaruk in the weird purgatory between the NHL and the AHL.

Shinkaruk is another one of those players who has the talent necessary to become a complementary offensive winger in the NHL but has struggled to become a dominant threat in the AHL, rather than just a very good one. Shinkaruk sits at a weird fringe level and it’s on him to take that next step and stick at the NHL level. While Poirier has the skating and lacks the puck skills, the reverse can probably be said for Shinkaruk, whose talent with the puck goes without saying.

Stockton Heat head coach Ryan Huska had a similar assessment as Wheeler, noting that being a consistently take-charge player is what’s keeping Shinkaruk from breaking through into the NHL ranks.

Hunter, in a lot of ways, I think understands that he can affect the outcome of a game in a positive way. For him to do that consistently, it’s about him being around the puck all the time and demanding it. And that’s when you see him at his very best, where he would take pucks to the net and he would score some big goals for us.

The challenge for him is doing it consistently, where he’s making everyone take notice that this guy is ‘on,’ he’s taking charge of the game, he’s not waiting for things to happen, he’s making things happen, and that’s what Hunter is all about when he’s at his very best and that’s what I expect to see from him this year.

What comes next?

Shinkaruk turns 23 this year and is in danger of being passed on the depth chart by guys like Andrew Mangiapane and Morgan Klimchuk (if he hasn’t been already). A talented puck handler and shooter, Shinkaruk will have to find a way to consistently translate his abilities into results this season if he is going to have any future at all with the Flames.

Previously

#20 – Ryan Lomberg #19 – Adam Ollas Mattsson
#18 – Daniel Pribyl #17 – Eetu Tuulola
#16 – Adam Ruzicka #15 – Emile Poirier
#14 – David Rittich

  • Styxx

    It would be “found money” for the Flames if 1 or 2(!) of the trio of 2013 entry draft late first round wingers (#22 Poirier, #24 Shinkaruk, #28 Klimchuk) bounce back from their respective challenges and take a big step forward. All three have the potential, the big club needs quality wingers the next couple years, and having a couple inexpensive but productive wingers would round out the forward group plus relieve some cap pressure on Backlund’s upcoming contract this year and Tkachuk, Lazar, Ferland, Jankowski etc in a couple years.

    Interesting note – Monahan was ranked as #5 North American skater (drafted 6th) and Shinkaruk as #6 (drafted 24th) by Central Scouting for the 2013 Entry Draft.

    • Styxx

      Also of note, Curtis Lazar was drafted 17th in 2013. Obviously this is also a “prove it” year for him as well as Poirier, Shinkaruk and Klimchuk. If nothing else Treliving has purchased enough 2013 mid-late first-rounder raffle tickets …if 2-3 solid players successfully emerge from this group then this could be a major factor in seeing the Flames become a top 8 cup contender.

    • The GREAT WW

      There is a long list of players who had poor seasons last year.
      Both on the Flames and in Stockton.
      Our coaching at both levels is our biggest weakness.
      Bringing Huska back is a real head scratcher…..
      GG will be gone by the end of this year.

      WW

    • cjc

      I don’t think this counts as found money in any way (well, maybe for Brad Treliving as he didn’t draft them). We have four high-2013 picks on the team in danger of not panning out, 2 of whom Treliving surrendered assets for.

      • Just.Visiting

        An interesting article. I would definitely regard Parsons, Valimaki and Fox as high end prospects based on what we know at this time. Janko is still developing physically, so we should have a much better sense of his ceiling by the end of this season.

    • piscera.infada

      Yeah, I’m not sure I buy it that much. Pronman’s actual quote:

      The Flames don’t have an elite player in their system after Matthew Tkachuk graduated in 2016-17, but solid drafting has resulted in reasonable talent at every position, particularly on defense with Juuso Valimaki, Adam Fox and Oliver Kylington. Their AHL team was entertaining this past season, with talent to see throughout the lineup. Their system could provide a lot of help to the big club during the next two seasons.

      There’s an entirely fair argument there that the Flames “don’t have an elite prospect in their system”, but that speaks more to graduating top-prospects basically year-over-year–they’re left with depth prospects, which is basically what they need organisationally. I think a lot of teams in the league, save for (maybe) a couple, would kill for the Flames’ prospect defensemen depth.

      I’d also point out that the statement at the end, seems somewhat contradictory.

      • Northernlights

        You are silly . Puljujarvi was the youngest guy in the league last year and brand new from Finland. 6’4″ 220 skates like the wind and has a great shot. He is gonna be just fine riding shotgun with McDavid for the next 15 years.

          • Northernlights

            He will be good no matter where he plays. You do know that forward lines consist of 3 forwards, so McDavid will obviously needs a RW.
            Come to think of it maybe we could have McDavid out on a line by himself
            And he’d still get 80 points.
            Puljujarvi will not have to be propped up by anyone like Bennett. Fourth pick fail!

        • SeethingRed

          COilers response to every struggling player “we will just put him with MacDavid and he will be fine”…so let’s count…Juicypoo, Slugcic,Drysaddle, RNH, Kassian, oh and the freshly added Strome…looks like there is going to be a line up….hehehe regression is coming

        • FlamesFanOtherCity

          Funny that he failed in Bakersfield too. He was great against players his own age, but will need to become a force in the AHL before he can play the game against NHL players. He’s not a bust, but I don’t think you can sing his praises yet either. That won’t happen of course, since the team decided to burn a year of his ELC. He will be on the Oilers because of that.

  • Off the wall

    I guess the thing that sticks out most to me is that our prospect pool is starting to fill out nicely.

    Our defensive players are a wish for many clubs out there.

    The little bit I’ve seen of Shinkaruk doesn’t give me hope for him making the Flames, I could be wrong but he doesn’t seem to have the ability to be in position to read the play.
    Most great prospects do, case in point Tkachuk (although a prospect who graduated quickly) who has the uncanny knack of knowing where the play is going prior to it happening.

    I don’t think you can teach that, you either have it or don’t.

  • Kevin R

    I think it’s time for Tre to let that 2013 Draft go. I know at the time it was hyped as one of the best deepest drafts in years but these later picks are just not doing it. Personally I wish Feaster would have packaged up the 22 & 28 picks & tried to move up, 14th Wennberg, 12th Domi or Buffalo liked lots of picks maybe they would have given us #8 Ristolainien.
    Anyway, would of, should of, could of……time to move on from 2013, we still have Money.

    Pronman is a goof. I have read on many different sites & from other fan bases how enviable our D pipeline is, in addition to how young our top 5 is (aside from the ageless Gio). Also I have read where Parsons is considered one of the best Goalie prospects not in the NHL. How could we have dropped so far? I get it our forward prospects our more Hail Mary-ish, that’s what happens when your last 3 1st rounders crack the lineup as rookies. I would have at least expected a 10th -14th ranking. JMO, what do I know.

    • piscera.infada

      I think there’s a reasonableness argument here. The guy is trying to create an objective ranking of prospect systems, and there has to be a baseline for that. I don’t know his entire methodology (stupid paywalls) so I can only assume (based on his quote regarding the Flames), that he’s weighted certain high-end prospects considerably higher than their mid- to low-end counterparts. That seems like an entirely reasonable way to “rank” things for a multitude of reasons, so I’m not sure we can be all that surprised with it.

      Anyways, the important part of his assessment is thus:

      Their system could provide a lot of help to the big club during the next two seasons.

      And if that happens, is that not the best-case scenario for the organisation on the whole?

      Regarding your 2013 draft comment, all I can say is I disagree. I still think there are likely players there. As fans of the Flames, we’ve been spoiled rotten by all these prospects (basically one a year) making a big impact on the roster immediately. The reality is, while a lot of these prospects won’t pan out into legitimate NHL talent, a few of them likely will. I would rather the organisation evaluate them based on the most information possible (that will take time). Also (as an aside), I’ve said for a couple of years that Klimchuk is the true darkhorse from that draft class–watch out for him.

      • Kevin R

        Not a big Klimchuk fan but I would be more than pleased to eat crow or any other bird for being wrong. I wasn’t as high on Ferland the way others were early in his career, but now I love this kids game & really want to see him on Monahan & Gaudreaus line for the full year. I just feel this kid is going to get 20-25 goals playing on that line. He plays with a big enough edge to deflect attention on Gaudreau & Money.

    • supra steve

      Hockey games/seasons are an excellent way to evaluate a team. Ranking teams by their prospect AHL and non pro prospects is just a waste of everyone’s time.

      • Off the wall

        Agreed, I never understood that evaluation prospect analysis ..

        It takes years to determine evaluations for many prospects and turns out to be erroneous more times than not.

        Evaluating is great for hockey writers, not so much for the fan who wants to SEE the results!

        I get that we all like assimilating possibilities, however I put no stock in preemptive grading.

  • everton fc

    “While Poirier has the skating and lacks the puck skills, the reverse can probably be said for Shinkaruk, whose talent with the puck goes without saying.”

    Seems what I’m reading from “scouting” is Shinkaruk’s skating is holding him back. Holds a lot of guys back from making “the jump”.

  • The Doctor

    It’s interesting the reference to Klimchuk — I always thought that Klimchuk looked like a better player in junior, even though Shinkaruk got a lot more buzz.

    • Carl the tooth

      Last season in ahl klimchuck was better than shinkaruk and poirier put together. I know he’s a lw but he stuck out the most to me in last years camp too . Klimchuck is more versatile as well .

  • Just.Visiting

    I thought that Shink looked great when provided an opportunity to play with talented players his first year with the Flames. He was fully engaged and fighting for the puck. He didn’t look like the same player to me in what I saw last year.

    The weaknesses in his game are such that he has to be a top six guy to play for the Flames. At this point, it looks like he’s fighting for bottom six minutes with players who have a more complete game. That’s a problem for him, which will only be worse once Dube is in the mix and Mange and Klimchuk have a bit more experience.

  • Atomic Clown

    5 first rounders from 2013. That’s two lines (almost) yet only one of them is a consistently playing and producing in the NHL. Worry is starting to creep in, as the upcoming season will the fifth year in the pro leagues for those guys, and yet the guy drafted one year after them, at a position many called a reach, is more likely to crack the NHL roster.

      • Puckhead

        The Flames also need good players on the farm to surround new prospects and develop them. Success on the farm translates into success in the NHL. Having good players that never make the show is never a loss. If anything, it’s a sign of strength for an organization.

        Go 🔥 Go!!!

    • Atomic Clown

      I concur with both replies above, however I believe one or two games in the NHL is not a very good indicator of how a player is, and a lot of times when organizations feel like a player has plateaued in the A, they trade the player (I’m surprised at the Wotherspoon situation). That said, I also understand a lot of our prospects are not fully ready. I do believe Poirier, Shinkaruk and Klimchuk become RFA’s after this year, what do you do then? We only have spots for Jankowski/Foo this year

  • OKG

    Shinkaruk at 13 is Fair enough.

    I am still dumbfounded you guys had him at two last year and Jankowski at 11. Jankowski has been a top 3 prospect in this org for three straight years, and four of the last five (Gaudreau/Bennett/Ortio were our top 3 in 2014 though)