Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

FlamesNation prospect wrap-up: Hunter Shinkaruk

When the Flames acquired Hunter Shinkaruk, then the Canucks’ top prospect, for the low, low price of inconsistent third liner Markus Granlund, it looked to be a godsend. It appeared that the Flames had acquired an NHL-ready, dynamic winger who could compliment the Flames’ stronger players and fill in holes on the roster. After a strong NHL run out on the top line, it appeared that there was nowhere to go but up for the 2013 first rounder.

It has not gone that way at all. After his second full season in the Flames organization, Shinkaruk seems more like an afterthought than a solution.

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Shinkaruk came to the NHL with high expectations. His draft-1 year saw him put up 91 points, giving him potential lottery pick status. Although his draft year wasn’t much of an improvement, he still performed well enough to earn the 24th overall selection of the Vancouver Canucks (many Flames fans wanted him at 22 instead of Poirier). His final WHL year was cut very short by injury, finishing with only 16 points in 18 games played.

In his first year of pro, Shinkaruk was a quiet contributor to the Utica Comets, picking up 31 points in 74 games and finishing fifth in team scoring. His second year was pretty dominant. He finished tied for second in scoring for Utica with 39 points in 46 games. To put it into context, he finished nine points out of first with 18 fewer games. The guy he tied with (former Flame Carter Bancks) played 31 more games to hit that 39 point total.

Shinkaruk’s second pro year also saw him traded to the Flames for Granlund. In his brief stint with the Stockton Heat, he picked up 12 points in 17 games and earned a recall to Calgary. He finished the year on the first line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, picking up three points in seven games. For comparison, that was the same amount Granlund picked up in 16 games with the Canucks. It looked like an early win for the Flames.

The next season did not go so well. Penciled in as a solution for the Flames’ winger depth issues, Shinkaruk didn’t impress in the preseason and was sent down to begin the regular season. He did get seven NHL games, but only registered one assist and looked unconvincing in fourth line minutes. He finished with 35 points in 52 games for the Heat.

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2017-18 story

Shinkaruk spent the entire season with Stockton, playing in a middle six role with powerplay time. Nothing significant to report except that he was scratched for his final few games of the season for undisclosed reasons. Not a great look when your team sits you out in a desperate playoff chase, but perhaps there were other reasons.

The numbers

GP G A P Primary points 5v5 Points 5v5 Primary points NHLe
AHL 63 17 15 32 26 19 17 19.58

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The first chart isn’t very positive. Shinkaruk was, at all times, much further behind his previous year’s self by anywhere from five to seven NHLe points at a time. Even more concerning is that he rarely broke past the 20 NHLe threshold, generally indicative of a prospect who is at least worth something. He did improve from the start of the season to the end of it, true, but not in leaps or bounds, suggesting that he wasn’t struggling as much as he was just afforded more opportunities.

The positive side is how he scored his points. His 17 5v5 primary points and 26 primary points finishes third among forwards behind Andrew Mangiapane and Morgan Klimchuk, two first liners. His 147 shots were second on the team behind Spencer Foo’s 161. Those are pretty good numbers, especially for a guy who rarely got first line time.

The problem is that he did the same last year. One of the reasons for optimism in spite of his 2016-17 production was that he had great underlying numbers despite his ice time. This year the circumstances didn’t really change but Shinkaruk’s numbers got worse. That’s a pretty significant regression and one that could put him out of the running for an NHL job.

The future

Shinkaruk’s steps backwards as a prospect are perplexing and frustrating. He came to Calgary looking ready to contribute and has fallen backwards to being a non-factor. Better players (Andrew Mangiapane, Morgan Klimchuk) have usurped him since arriving in Calgary, which happens, but he hasn’t held up his end of the bargain either.

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Not to say that there haven’t been positive signs. Shinkaruk has been a strong 5v5 points, primary points, and shot generator throughout his AHL career. He seems to be ready to break out given the opportunity, but the problem is that he can only perform that strong in a limited role and without much consistency.

You could probably argue for him to come back as an AHL depth option. Shinkaruk’s positive factors are intriguing enough that keeping him around could pay off. If he takes those skills and actually puts it all together, he could be in the NHL conversation again. He’s not going to go back to his first line spot with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, but he could actually be an NHLer if he hits a new level.

But he’s likely not going to be re-signed in the first place. The incoming crop of WHLers (Dillon Dube, Glenn Gawdin, Matthew Phillips) offer more in terms of skillset and talent than Shinkaruk. Given Calgary’s development model of placing high end talent high in the lineup, there’s not really a spot for him. There are better, younger players who could really use his ice time. Even if he does take a major jump next season, is he going to really go from AHL third liner to NHL third liner just like that? Probably not.

I think the Granlund-Shinkaruk trade was a good idea. The Flames got a young promising player for an asset that wasn’t really going anywhere (besides a random 19-goal season, Granlund has been one of the worst players in the NHL for point production versus time on ice). It didn’t turn out, which happens sometimes. Sucks.

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Spencer Foo | Rasmus Andersson | Tyler Wotherspoon | Oliver Kylington | Josh Healey & Adam Ollas Mattsson | Mitchell Mattson | Hunter Smith | Mason McDonald | Tyler Parsons | Juuso Valimaki | Nick Schneider | Adam Ruzicka | Matthew Phillips | D’Artagnan Joly | Glenn Gawdin | Zach Fischer | Dillon Dube | Filip Sveningsson | Eetu Tuulola | Adam Fox | Linus Lindstrom | Pavel Karnaukhov & Rushan Rafikov

  • Alberta Ice

    Granlund and Sven trades were wins for the Canucks. Glad Burke is gone. On another note, so glad the Caps are looking good to take out the Golden Knights. I’d rather have a team who hasn’t won a Cup in its 44 years of existence win it than a first year expansion team. (But full kudos to the Golden Knights organization for proving they were no fluke. Two really great stories to finish off this NHL season. (Flames, your turn next season to shock the hockey world! GFG).

    • Off the wall

      I gotta hand it to you WW, the Huska’d was funny!

      Makes me a little trepid when I think of Huska running our PK.
      Peters’ won’t need to throw a stick. He’ll just chew on rebar while glaring at Huska..

        • Baalzamon

          and Jamie Benn. And I mean there’s that Nick Merkley kid, who some folks really like (I don’t, particularly).

          Here’s the thing though… how many high end forwards actually came through Kelowna over the years? I can’t think of anyone who went in there with a lot of hype and didn’t really amount to anything. Maybe Colton Sissons? Blake Comeau?

    • Rudy27

      Making the NHL is not for the faint at heart, and it is natural to look for reasons when someone with promise doesn’t work out. Shinkaruk and Porier’s decline is puzzling, but rather than blame coaching, I look to see if injuries or mental toughness of the individual is the main influence.

      Regardless of what assignment and ice time a coach gives you, it is on you (the player) to make the best of it and give 100% each sift. If you go in the tank because you feel you are not being treated fairly, you don’t have the metal it takes to play in the NHL. The AHL is a development and proving ground league. If you can’t make it there…try Europe!

      • cberg

        I agree that has a lot of merit. I also believe guys with the talent can be assisted to develop the mental toughness, but the Flames prefer to put them through a scorched earth make it or else trial and lose out on some good players in the process.

        • cjc

          Who under the current management regime has lost out, left the team and gone elsewhere and succeeded. I think you need to at least acknowledge the possibility these guys just weren’t as good as their draft position would indicate. Late first rounders flame out all the time, it happens.

          • cberg

            I agree many players don’t work out, but its very convenient (to your argument) that several of the guys I had in mind were never given a “reasonable” shot and then went back down and flamed out, in the AHL. Of a group of Wotherspoon, Poirier and Shinkaruk (that come to mind), only Wotherspoon has clawed his way back but still gets no opportunity. That’s pigeon-holing and no real opportunity personified. Heck, same with Sven, Arnold, Klimchuk……… Fortunately (hopefully) the current coach seems to have a different approach, which we will see and perhaps he’s able to nurture some of our AHL talent which would be better all around versus constantly going after and signing over-the-hill vet UFA’s and PTO’s. Look, even if the prospects don’t work out to their full potentials, I bet the team would still be ahead of the game with them versus the trail of junk that’s been signed the past 2-3 years. And in addition, what do you think the impact is on top-level young UFAs who see a team that truly gives young prospects a real shot? The repercussions go far beyond just one player, and the recent Flames are losing out big time.

        • cjc

          Most of these guys had their chance as injury call ups or late season recalls, so they were sent back down because they had to be. I completely agree that the Flames have clogged the way with substandard veteran depth. But as a counterpoint, the team also made room for Hathaway, Jankowski and Kulak last year.

          Poirier had a great rookie year in the AHL, and he’s been fighting personal demons since. Shinkaruk had a meh camp. Wotherspoon was a LHD that wasn’t going to make the team ahead of Gio, Brodie and Kulak. Maybe as a 7D, but he would have spent more time eating popcorn. Sven wasn’t this management group, but it wasn’t working here. Arnold? He is out of hockey now. Klimchuk had a rough rookie year in the AHL, and two decent years since, but why does he deserve a forward spot ahead of, say Mangiapane?

          Coaches don’t decide who gets called up or sent down, that is all management, so I wouldn’t expect Peters to change the team’s approach to prospects that much. As for “top-level young UFAs”, that is almost an oxymoron. Most players don’t reach UFA status until they are 27 or 28, a small handful at 26. Regardless, UFAs that test the waters want money and a chance to win a cup. After that, it’s lifestyle and personal/family concerns. How prospects are treated is pretty far down the list. I’d wager most UFAs are pretty unaware of what other teams farm systems looks like.

          • freethe flames

            The problem with many of the Flames call ups is that they are not played in an appropriate place. The most recent example is Mangiapane; called up and plays 4th line when he needs to played more in offensive role. We then get down on him. Foo comes up and his opportunity better fits his role and people get excited about him. For my money I like Mangiapane better than Foo.
            Poirier’s call up a few years ago; a checking role despite being the Heats top offensive threat. Again give these guys a look at a spot where they might succeed. I am also very critical of the lack of center ice skill on the farm; it’s hard for wingers to develop if the centers are not as good.

  • cberg

    Another example, like Poirier who were messed over when they had their moment and got sent down nonetheless. Too bad. Still has potential but things have to change which likely won’t happen in Calgary.

    • cjc

      I fail to see how either Shinkaruk or Poirier were messed over, or even had a “moment”. That “brilliant patch” he had in April 2016 was as an injury call-up.

      I think there is still some value there, and his numbers would be better if he had a bit more ice time in Stockton, but I’m also okay with him being used as a middle six forward given what else Stockton had going on. I would like to see him re-signed on a two-way contract and given a chance to make the team. He could slot in nicely with Shore (whom they should also re-sign), but only if he has a good camp. But there are others ahead of him on the depth chart.

    • The Fall

      2013 1st Round Draft: #6 Monahan, #17 Lazar, #22 Poirier, #24 Shinkaruk, #28 Klimchuk…

      Thats 17% of first round picks playing for the Flames. Outside of Sean, they total about 56 points in the NHL.

      Either the Flames destroy prospects or making the NHL is hard.

  • DMac

    There is no doubt that Shinkaruk has underperformed against expectations. I would be very interested in the advanced stats, but he appeared to be hesitating when he crossed the bluelines in either direction, a bit lost on his assignments. Is that a confidence thing? He did seem to be a contributor on the PP, but not at 5v5. . . Yes, I would look to re-up him on essentially no more than a one year “show me” deal.

  • Franko J

    Taking about the trade for Granlund, look at who the Flames could have taken in the second round in 2011. I know it is in hindsight, but wow again it just proves how hard it is for scouts and GM’s in the NHL to select and pick good prospects who will turn into great Pro’s.

    • supra steve

      There were a lot of turds still on the board, and a few gems. Could the Flames have had Kucherov in the second round…yes they could have. But looking at who’s name they called at pick #104 overall, I’d say they had a good day at the 2011 draft.

  • Franko J

    I remember on the Fan 960 and how they were shocked the Flames took Poirier over Shinkaruk. Well both are duds. I know the GM usually has the final say on the draft floor, but I’m really curious to know who the Flames scouts had at 22 and 28 in 2013.

    I think the organization would be better to move on from Shinkaruk. Besides the organization has to find somewhere to put Brouwer and Lazar come next year. Pending trades / buy out.

  • Off the wall

    Excuse me moderators, I’m not here to complain, but what ever happened to consistency?

    We have a previous blog filled with ON litter that’s allowed, but today everyone is censored?

    Can we get back to being a first class blog and have a moderator make a comment when things go south, rather than just deleting everything?

    Much appreciated…

  • freethe flames

    I actually think they should resign all three of Shinkaruk, Klimchuk and Poirier unless they are signing some NCAA guys or young Euros but so far that does not seem to be happening. If we had 4/5 guys coming from the CHL who could push for jobs in the AHL I would be reluctant to have them all back but as we only have 3; Dube, Gawdin and Phillips coming to the AHL I would prefer to put them in a position to succeed in their natural position. Having some veterans who I would call late bloomers/tweeners would help. Assuming no one makes the big team at the start of the year I would suggest lines like the following:
    Mangiapane/Gawdin/Foo as the number 1 offensive line; Gawdin is supposed to an offensive center so give him a chance.
    Kilmchuk/Dube/Poirier; Dube is heralded as a 200 ft player as is Klimchuk; give them the Backlund role defensive responsible but produce some O. Poirier on his last chance audition.

    Shinkaruk/McMurty(I think he was the to O center at the end of last year or some Tweener like Hrvik)/Phillips. Again give this line lots of Ozone starts. Highlight Phillips strengths.
    4th line Lomberg/?/Pollock.

    • Stockton's Finest

      The only change I would make is to move Dube to RW. He played there when he was here at the end of the season. In his place, the Heat need to re-sign Colin Smith, who would fill that 2nd line Center. Lomberg and Pollock are both “listed” as centers, but really are wingers. A veteran 4th line center is needed. Rod Pelley and Mike Angelidis filled those roles the past two seasons.

      • freethe flames

        SF: I completely understand your reasoning for Dube on the RW but I would like to see him given a chance at C where they drafted him Also I would love to see them sign 1 or even tweener centers; guys like Hrivik. Today I read that the dreaded OIlers signed 5 guys to AHL only deals and I personally would like to see some solid AHLers be the mainstay for you. I’m a big believer in the farm needing to be both a place for prospects to develop but also a place to develop winning attitude.

  • MDG1600

    On the road to the NHL the ditch is littered with the bodies of high scoring junior prospects who were touted as great prospects. A lot more of them fail than succeed. It is overwhelmingly likely that Shinkaruk just isn’t good enough.

    • Rudy27

      That’s why I don’t get too excited when people complain that we gave up too much for a player by giving away a 2nd round pick. Look at how many 1st rounders don’t last in the big league!

    • freethe flames

      There are many first rounders(some first over all’s who have been busts as well). Almost all teams have there share of busts and their share of great late round finds. Some guys also take longer to find a place in the NHL as well; one never knows for sure.

  • Garry T

    Hunter, if you are a reader of this blog, take note. It has been obvious to many of your fans that times have been difficult for you. I would go in and meet with both Huska and Treiliving and ask for a show me contract for 2018/19. Get that sorted. Then forget the last three years and go into this year’s camp and earn a job. Work your ass off throughout camp and show them you belong. You are better than 3 of our bottom six. If you earn a spot, you give them everything you have every shift. Show them why you were drafted in the first round. I truly hope you make the squad.

    • freethe flames

      Hunter if you are reading this get back to the gym. Go take a look at the stuff posted on the teams website of Kylington’s work out. He looks more like a sprinter than a hockey player.