On Monday afternoon, the Canucks announced that 18-year old winger Hunter Shinkaruk would be sent down to the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League.
VAN’s Hunter Shinkaruk is headed back to Medicine Hat of the WHL.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 30, 2013
The 24th overall pick in the 2013 draft had turned heads in the preseason as he showed skills that would push any rookie up in contention for a prized spot on the regular season lineup. Shinkaruk’s explosive speed, confident puck possession, laser accurate shot, and efficient use of his size garnered him two goals in the six games played in September, as well as a lot of praise by the media and fans alike.
With coach John Tortorella asserting that “we need more kids” on the team, it was widely speculated that either Shinkaruk, or the #9 pick at the same draft, Bo Horvat, would crack at least nine NHL games this year (the minimum a Canadian junior player is eligible to play, to be able to be sent back to their CHL team). Instead, the new coach will work with other younger players like Frank Corrado, Jordan Schroeder, or even Nicklas Jensen, should he receive the call away from Utica.
The upside to Shinkaruk is that an extra year of play (also being received by Horvat, and Brendan Gaunce) in the minor leagues will do a lot to improve their conditioning, size, and puck sense.