The Calgary Flames have dealt with one of their two remaining unrestricted free agents, but not in the way they’ve dealt with the others. The club announced today that they’ve traded forward Hunter Shinkaruk to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for forward Kerby Rychel.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) August 20, 2018
Originally selected by the Columbus Blue Jackets 19th overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, Rychel has bounced around quite a bit without having found a ton of NHL traction. The 23-year-old left winger has played 41 NHL games – 37 with Columbus, four with Montreal – but otherwise has been a productive if unspectacular player in the American Hockey League. He’s an unsigned restricted free agent.
This is the third time in three calendar years that Rychel has been traded:
- He was traded from Columbus to Toronto at the 2016 NHL Draft for Scott Harrington and a conditional draft pick.
- He was traded again from Toronto to Montreal just prior to the 2018 trade deadline as part of the Tomas Plekanec swap.
Shinkaruk, 23, was basically Montreal’s version of Rychel. Also an unsigned left-shot forward, he’s a 2013 NHL Draft first round pick that has failed to get a ton of traction between Vancouver and Calgary. The Flames acquired him from Vancouver for Markus Granlund, but Shinkaruk has been lapped by several less-established prospects over the past few seasons and has settled into an AHL role.
If you were wondering to yourself why the Flames even bothered to qualify Shinkaruk, our pal Pat Steinberg has a bit of context for things.
Calgary was close to not qualifying Shinkaruk in June but opted to go ahead. He was also looking at options in Europe, so was pretty clear Shinkaruk was not long for the organization. #Flames
— Pat Steinberg (@Fan960Steinberg) August 20, 2018
In other words: the club spent an asset to get Shinkaruk, so it made sense for them to qualify him in order to get an asset for him when he (eventually) left the organization.