The hysteria surrounding the upcoming 2012 draft class has started as the CHL Subway Super Series is underway and the Under-20 World Junior Hockey Championship is quickly approaching. The 2012 draft class has been deemed “deep” by most experts as it features several high profile forwards and plenty of defensemen with top four upside. As exciting as the current crop of upcoming NHLers is there could be even more hype surrounding the 2013 NHL draft class when this time rolls around next season.
The Dean’s List previously featured Texas born Seth Jones, a defenseman all fantasy poolies will know shortly and Sean Monahan, a big skilled complete center who currently leads the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s in scoring as a 17-year old. In the fantasy hockey world, the importance of drafting players with upside is important but it becomes even more valuable when those players actually reach that upside or exceed all expectations. The Dean’s List turns to the Western Hockey League to a player making a strong argument to become a valuable NHLer and strong fantasy contributor. He should compete with the Nathan MacKinnons, Seth Joneses, and Sean Monahans in becoming the 2013 first overall pick.
The Dean’s List introduces you to forward Hunter Shinkaruk from the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Born: October 13, 1994
Height: 5’10” Weight: 165 lbs
2011-12 WHL Statistics: 20GP-20G-8A-28P, 10 PIM, +11
Last year when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was drafted first overall he was the first Western Hockey Leaguer to earn such honours since Chris Phillips went first in the 1996 NHL Entry draft. The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is twenty plus months away and the undersized Hunter Shinkaruk could easily make his bid to become follow in Nugent-Hopkins’ and Phillips’ footsteps. Hunter’s late birthday (October 13th) extends his draft year by a full year otherwise Shinkaruk could be a target for the 2012 draft.
In Shinkaruk’s WHL rookie season he racked up an impressive 14 goals and 42 points to finish tied for ninth in freshman scoring and fifth among his Medicine Hat teammates. Shinkaruk has already surpassed last year’s goal total of fourteen in just his twelfth game and is red hot tallying nine goals in just four November contests to bring his total to 20 goals. In fact, Hunter Shinkaruk was honoured with the CHL Player of the Week Award for his weekly production 7 goals and 11 points in 3 measly games. At seventeen years old, Shinkaruk became the youngest player to receive the award this season and joins the likes of Tanner Pearson, Mark Stone, Emerson Etem, Nail Yakupov, Brandon Saad, Jonathan Huberdeau as the league’s top weekly player.
Hockey has always been a priority for Hunter Shinkaruk and his WHL rookie success led him to an invite to play for Canada’s Team Pacific in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. In the annual tournament, Shinkaruk steered Team Pacific to a 3-1 record on their way to a Bronze medal as Skinkaruk finished the tournament with a striking 5 goals, 9 points in 6 games (4th in tournament scoring). Hunter Shinkaruk was named to the World Hockey Challenge’s All-Star Team and his strong showing certainly attracted the attention of Hockey Canada for future international tournaments.
Shinkaruk has been compared to fellow undersized forward Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and The Dean’s List approves of that comparison. Like Patrick Kane, the boy-ish looking Shinkaruk has elite playmaking and puck handling abilities making him a valuable player to open up time and space for his teammates. Shinkaruk could be the best puck handler in the WHL and earns a accurate comparison to former WHL star Jordan Eberle for his strong playmaking skills and ability to find open space to score timely goals. Hunter is certainly undersized at 5-foot-10 inches and just a shade over a buck-sixty but his quick feet, strong base, good agility, and elite hockey sense makes him a difficult player to knock off the puck. Again, much like Patrick Kane, the Calgary native’s best skill might be his knack for sneaking away from coverage and finding the open scoring areas which is a reflection of his on-ice cerebral approach to the game. The combination of Shinkaruk’s skating, hockey intelligence and stick skills makes him a deadly offensive threat but scouts are noticing that the youngster has been responsible in his defensive play as well.
As Hunter Shinkaruk plays his way up to the 2013 NHL Entry draft, scouts will be looking for Hunter to maintain strong offensive production and continue his strong two-way play. As a young 1994, Hunter has time to grow and fill out his frame. The Medicine Hat Tigers selected Hunter Shinkaruk with the fourteenth pick of the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft that featured other touted prospects like Derrick Pouliot (’12), Morgan Rielly (’12), Griffin Reinhart (’12), Matt Dumba (’12) and Seth Jones (’13). Fortunately, Medicine Hat will have the services of Hunter Shinkaruk for at least two more years as he looks to continue his strong play this season and then will take over the reins from Anaheim Ducks’ prospect Emerson Etem as the Tigers’ leader. Hunter Shinkaruk exudes confidence and his on-ice play certainly reflects that as he has made a point to show scouts that he excels offensively and comes up big when his team needs him the most. Those qualities along with his outstanding skill set are just a few attributes that The Dean’s List searches for when attempting to locate potential fantasy gems and future NHL stars. Go ahead and chalk down the name “Hunter Shinkaruk” as a potential top ten 2013 NHL draftee.