Winger Hunter Shinkaruk has been simply electric for Medicine Hat the last couple of seasons in the WHL. This year he only managed to grab 86 points, I say only because last year he put home 91 points. Still yet, the kid has offensive talent and knows what to do with the puck on his stick. Now the biggest question is, where does he end up, and when do we see his game come to the NHL level. If Hunter has an impressive combine, there is a small chance he could crack the Top 10, maybe going ahead of Sean Monahan or Darnelle Nurse, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Shinkaruk has a long way to go in his development, I like to think of him a lot like Ty Rattie from the St. Louis Blues. Sure, he’s got a good shot and can put up points, but he’s still got two more years left in junior before I think he’s ready for the big NHL jump.
He does the offensive part of his game well, as we’ve mentioned, but he could get better awareness with the puck too. While he does have nice assist numbers, he also has a high turnover rate. That is something that will come with time and practice, he’ll learn to keep the puck on his stick and when to make the right pass and when to not make that pass. For what it is worth, I don’t think he will play any in the AHL, probably after two more years in Medicine Hat he’ll play on some team’s 3rd line for a year before blossoming into the Top 6 forward he’s expected to be. Make no mistake about it, he’s a talented prospect, but he just misses the cut for NHL ready talent by a couple of picks.
If he does go back to the WHL you can expect him to probably break the 100 point barrier, especially with Portland losing not just one but two defenseman this year (Seth Jones will be drafted, Derrick Pouliot will likely be on the Penguins starting roster next season if they’re unable to retain Murray). You also have to factor in he will be another year older, stronger, and faster which should help him beat some of the resident netminders in the WHL. Will it be enough for Medicine Hat to overcome the Oil Kings and Winterhawks? I’m not sure, Portland always finds a way to reload, and Edmonton has been playing good hockey the last two years. Only time will tell.
In terms of the team that gets him, well they’re getting a project player for sure, a guy who could come in right away and maybe add 10-15 points, but might hurt overall development wise. It’s best to let him wade out his last two years, especially if he ends up going to a team like Philadelphia, and then have him come in to take over. I expect big things from this kid going forward, I don’t know if I would put him in the elite winger pile just yet, but he has the potential to be a 60 point player consistently with the right talent around him. It should be exciting to see, as long as he doesn’t go to a team that we play on a regular basis. And now, here is some highlight tape.