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2013 Draft Prospect Profile: Hunter Shinkaruk

Next up in our draft profile series is Calgarian Hunter Shinkaruk, left winger for the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL.

Calgary native Hunter Shinkaruk didn't match his career high in points in his third season in the WHL, but he was close.

The 18-year-old scored 37 goals and added 49 assists for 86 points in 64 games for the Medicine Hat Tigers this past season, and finished the year ranked sixth overall in terms of North American skaters, just below Sean Monahan.

Like some of the other forwards slated to go in the top ten in this year's draft, Shinkaruk is listed as a winger and a centre. While he is considered to be one of the more talented pure scorers in this year's draft, the fact that Shinkaruk scored less points in his draft year than in 2011-12 presents a major red flag that forces him down the list for some observers:

From the Copper & Blue:

The most probable outcome for Shinkaruk looks to be a middle six NHL forward who might play on the top line so long as someone else is driving the bus. Size doesn't seem to have a negative impact, though it should be noted that most of the smaller players listed were drafted in the 80s or early 90s.

...It's quite possible that a slight regression in offense doesn't actually matter. But given that Shinkaruk's likely outcome if it doesn't matter is good-but-not-great and his likely outcome if it does is something less than that, the uncertainty is going to push him down my list.

The absence of former linemate Emerson Etem may also have been a factor in the slight dip in Shinkaruk's point production this past season, and as such, others contend that the fact that he still managed 86 points in just 64 games this season is an impressive feat, and indicates he wasn't simply riding on Etem's coattails.

As a player on the smaller side at just 5"11 and 175 lbs., Shinkaruk's physical game is somewhat lacking, but like many smaller players, he is able to move quickly, stickhandle in tight spaces, and evade defenders, which combined with his above-average shot, makes him a multi-faceted offensive threat.

From Last Word on Sports:

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... 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 is one of those risky picks who could either boom or bust at the next level. His offensive skill set is certainly alluring and is what has kept him ranked in the top-10, something that the Flames are likely looking for with their first pick in the draft (unless they select a defenceman or worse, a goalie...*shudder*), but I don't see them choosing Shinkaruk with their sixth overall pick, especially considering their rumoured interest in Valeri Nichushkin, who is half a foot taller, 25 lbs. heavier and several months younger than Shinkaruk.

It's very unlikely that Shinkaruk will make it all the way down to the Flames at 22nd overall, but he will be considered a very good get if he does fall out of the top-10 on June 30th.

Here's Shinkaruk in action at last year's U-18 World Championships and with the Medicine Hat Tigers: