Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2013 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical draft profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2013 Draft Articles Click here.
Throughout his three years in the WHL, Hunter Shinkaruk has been a dynamic offensive forward for the Medicine Hat Tigers. There was some question as to how Shinkaruk would do this season after the graduation of linemate Emerson Etem, but Shinkaruk excelled, taking over the team captaincy and becoming the primary scoring threat with 37 goals and 86 points in 64 games. His points were down by 5 from the pevious year but considering the fact that he played 2 less games in 2012-13 and no longer had a 60 goal scorer playing beside him, his small dip in stats should not be a big concern.
Shinkaruk played internationally for Team Pacific at the 2011 Under 17 World Challenge, where he won a bronze medal. He also played for Team Canada at the 2012 IIHF Under 18 World Championships, where his hat-trick, including the overtime winner, led to Canada winning the bronze medal game. He was one of the last cuts from Canada’s 2013 World Junior team.
Born Oct 13 1994 — Calgary, ALTA
Height 5.11 — Weight 175 — Shoots Left
February Ranking 10
Shinkaruk is a quick and shifty skater. He has very good edgework, and strong lateral agility making him very shifty. He is able to use this skill to beat defenders off the rush, or attack the net when he has the puck in the offensive zone. He can also use his ability to shift gears quickly to attack defenders or to pull up opening space for him to be able to get off his wrist shot. Shinkaruk’s stride can sometimes be choppy, but it doesn’t seem to effect his top end speed as he is still above average in that aspect, and has good acceleration. Some refinement to his skating technique could make him even more dangerous though.
Shinkaruk has a tremendous wrist shot and excellent release, particularly when coming in on a rush off the left wing. His shot is very accurate, and heavy, and the release fools goalies leading to the puck being behind them before they know what happened. He also has a knack for finding the open areas of the ice and taking an excellent one-timer. Not just a one trick pony, Shinkaruk also has very good playmaking skill and vision which makes him very difficult to defend. Shinkaruk is an excellent stickhandler and can make defenders look silly in one on situations. Shinkaruk doesn’t really play a hugely physical game, but he is not afraid to battle on the boards or in front of the net. He also is more than willing to go to the dirty areas of the ice to make plays, and is able to make plays off the cycle game.
Shinkaruk’s two way game is decent, but he could use some more work on intensity in the defensive end of the ice. He does read the play well though, and gets back, he just sometimes can have a tendency to puck watch a little bit and lose his man. He also will probably need to bulk up before he can reach his full potential at the next level.
Stylistically Shinkaruk reminds us of Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes. We can also see him having the same type of potential, to be a dynamic offensive catalyst capable of creating and finishing plays at the NHL level.
Check back tomorrow for our number 12 prospect.
Thanks for reading, as always feel free to leave comments below and follow me on twitter @lastwordBKerr. Give the rest of the hockey department a follow while you’re at it – @BigMick99, @IswearGAA, and @LastWordOnNHL, and follow the site @lastwordonsport.
Interested in writing for LastWordOnSports? If so, check out our “Join Our Team” page to find out how.