Shinkaruk is an interesting prospect. According to the consensus draft rankings posted at NHLNumbers.com, Shinkaruk was the 12th best prospect heading into the draft. Bob McKenzie had him ranked 14th overall, right behind Bo Horvat. Corey Pronman saw him as a top-ten pick.
And yet, Shinkaruk slid down through the first round until the Canucks picked him up at 24th overall. Scouts point to his high-end offensive talent and he was one of just three prospects who had already scored 100 goals in major junior heading into the draft, but questions about his size and all-around game scared off other teams.
BC hockey fans might have seen a bit more from Shinkaruk than some other draft-eligible prospects since he played in the WHL, but I’ll be honest: I only saw him once last season, even with the lockout. I’m much more familiar with him from playing on his line in NHL 13 Be A Pro mode. So we have to rely on YouTube to provide us with highlights in order to actually see him for ourselves.
As mentioned when we looked at Bo Horvat on Tuesday, there’s an inherent bias in highlight packages on YouTube, as they only show us the best side of a certain player, showing us all of his strengths and none of his weaknesses.
Still, it’s hard not to be excited when the strengths on display are this strong. This video is from the 2012-13 WHL season, when Shinkaruk was slightly less productive than his previous year, scoring just 37 goals and 86 points in 64 games. What’s encouraging to see is how many different ways he was able to score goals.
Throughout this video we see wristshots, slapshots, backhands, breakaways, dekes, and simply going hard to the net and banging away.
His wristshot is heavy and accurate, best seen at 0:02, 0:37, and 1:33. His strong skating and speed allows him to break away from his defenders, as seen at 0:12 and 0:24 and he can finish once he’s alone with the goaltender, as seen in those opportunities and on his nice backhand move at 4:11. Those quick hands serve him well in the shootout as well, it appears, as we see two shootout goals using slight variations of the same move at 0:45 and 2:10.
Shinkaruk’s spinning backhand top corner at 1:11 is a high point, but my favourite moment comes at 1:59, as he takes a pass behind the net and makes an incredibly quick forehand-backhand move to bring the puck out front and roof it on the short-side before the goaltender can seal up the post.
We also get to see a handful of nice passing plays, such as at 0:17 when he’s playing the point on the powerplay and distributes down low, showing good vision. His edge control at 3:13 is a sight to see, finishing it off with a great cross-ice pass for the assist. The best pass comes at 3:59, as he loses his man on the boards, then threads a pass through defenders to an open man out front.
Even a couple moments where he doesn’t score are stunning, as he undresses a defender with a toe-drag at 2:27 and takes a shot from between his legs at 3:08.
You have to love his determination as well, as the video shows a series of scoring chances from 5:02 to the end during one game against Laurent Brossoit and the Edmonton Oil Kings in the playoffs. Brossoit was nearly unbeatable during the postseason, finishing with a .935 save percentage and 1.82 goals against average, but Shinkaruk threw everything he had at him, scoring a beautiful shorthanded goal in the process.
Unfortunately, it was the only goal he was able to score on Brossoit during the series and the Oil Kings swept the Tigers after the Tigers had swept the Saskatoon Blades in an upset.
Note: Song used in above video is NSFW, although if you’re watching hockey highlights at work you might already be in trouble.
This video, with highlights from the 2011-12 season, shows much of the same from the previous video, though Shinkaruk seems to benefit more from playing alongside Emerson Etem. Etem graduated to professional hockey last season, and the Medicine Hat Tigers and Shinkaruk in particular felt the loss.
What’s clear is that Shinkaruk knows how to get to goalscoring areas on the ice and, once there, knows how to finish. His ability to find soft areas on the ice and lose his defenders should not be overlooked.
There are a couple interesting tidbits from this interview prior to the 2011-12 season. Shinkaruk has apparently gotten a hole-in-one in golf before. His pre-game music of choice is generally hip-hop and rap, but he mentioned “Woe Is Me.” Unless he’s referring to a hip-hop song named “Woe Is Me,” I’m pretty sure he’s referring to the metalcore band.
He also says, and I quote, that he’s “a big trail mix fan.” Does trail mix have fans? Do people like trail mix on Facebook?
His last minute date idea with the woman of his dreams? Dinner, movie, then “see where the night goes from there” as he awkwardly smiles and licks his teeth. Yikes.
Interestingly, despite growing up in Calgary, he says his favourite team is the Montreal Canadiens. I think that Canucks fans can live with that over having a Flames fan in the system.
He clearly doesn’t have any issues with his confidence. When he was asked to compare himself to a current NHL player, he went with Henrik Zetterberg and Sidney Crosby. That might be a little ambitious.
This video from the Tigers’ 2013 skills competition is mostly just fun and silliness, but Shinkaruk’s shootout goal at 1:58 is worth seeing, as he provides a variation on the lacrosse style attempt that I have never seen before, going in one-handed with the puck well above his head before flipping it up and swatting it in.
The guy in the Mighty Ducks jersey who does the triple-deke just before Shinkaruk is also worth a watch.
Finally, this goal from the 2012 World Under-18 Hockey Championships is something special, as Shinkaruk busts past a defender, then drags the puck around the outstretched Finnish goaltender, finishing off a hattrick and winning Canada the bronze medal in overtime.Tags: Hunter Shinkaruk, The YouTubes, YouTube Scouting