NHL Draft prospects: No. 15 Hunter Shinkaruk

Hunter Shinkaruk helped the Medicine Hat Tigers to victory. (WHL Images)

Sportsnet.ca is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the National Hockey League draft in New Jersey on June 30.

Next in our countdown is the silky-smooth, offensive force of the Medicine Hat Tigers, Hunter Shinkaruk.

Stats: Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL) | 64 GP | 37 G | 49 A | 86 P | -13 | 44 PIM

Who is Hunter Shinkaruk?

Shinkaruk developed a reputation as a clutch player. His third goal in the 2012 under-18 world championship bronze-medal game was the overtime winner over Finland. He also helped Team Pacific to a bronze at the 2011 world under-17 hockey challenge, scoring a late third period goal to send it to overtime. He captured a gold medal with Canada at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial under-18 tournament. He made big strides this season, shouldering the scoring load after the graduation of Emerson Etem and setting a career-high with 49 assists.

Hunter Shinkaruk’s scouting report:

Shinkaruk is a pure goal scorer. He’s boasts an arsenal of stickhandling moves and vision to be an effective playmaker, making him a dual threat offensively. His skating is finely-tuned and he uses a burst to create separation to cut wide on defenders. Shinkaruk enjoyed tremendous chemistry with Etem, and started more slowly in his absence before finding similar chemistry with Curtis Valk, and eventually finished 14th in league scoring. The drawbacks to his game are his size – five-foot-10 and 181 pounds – and commitment to defence.

Teams who might be interested in Hunter Shinkaruk:

The Winnipeg Jets could use a spunky, speedy scorer to go alongside Mark Scheifele in their future lineup. Shinkaruk plays with passion, a trait Jets management may covet for a team that hasn’t participated for post-season play in both seasons since rebirth. His speed, goal scoring ability and character could be a welcome addition in Winnipeg, and given his late birthdate, which means he has just one season remaining in junior, he may join the team sooner than later.

Scout’s take: “Hunter Shinkaruk did really well in the absence of Emerson Etem,” says David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “This guy can score. He’s a very dynamic skater, he can create off the rush and he’s very good in transition. He’s a little bit small, but he’s a point-producing guy – probably more of a special teams player at the next level. He’s got to learn to play with more commitment away from the puck and he’s got to learn to play with more intensity and enthusiasm.

“But Shinkaruk has something you can’t quite teach, and that’s the ability to manufacture offence. His speed, including his first two steps out of the gate, is arguably one of the best in the draft. He had a good series in eliminating Saskatoon in the first round, but then he was very invisible against Edmonton (in the second round). He’s one of those players that an NHL team that needs scoring, they’re going to look to him because that’s the one dimension that he truly offers.”

“A tremendously intelligent and passionate offensive player,” adds Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “He is strong on the puck, has quick reactions and knows how to score goals. He typically is the player on the ice who pushes the pace of play and forces everyone else to play the game at his speed. He has great hands and is extremely tenacious around the puck. I don’t think I’ve come across a player who loves the sport as much as Shinkaruk and his passion to be on the ice, scoring goals and winning games is unbelievable. He has tremendous potential to be an offensive star at the next level and is the type of player I wouldn’t even count out of being on a full-time NHL roster next year.

“His work ethic and drive to achieve his goals is unparalleled,” MacLean continues. “He still needs to work on his defensive play and continue to get stronger. Shinkaruk is at his best when something is on the line and he has the ability to put his team on his back and will them to victory. He has very high ability with tremendous intangibles and a relentless desire to improve, which will take him wherever he wants to go.”

Rankings: Shinkaruk was ranked sixth by the NHL’s Central Scouting (North American skaters), 13th by International Scouting Services  and 22nd by McKeen’s Hockey.

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