Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Canucks call up Hunter Shinkaruk because he made it impossible not to

There was a lot of hype during pre-season and training camp over the rookies vying for spots on the roster.
Hunter Shinkaruk seems excited.
Hunter Shinkaruk seems excited.

There was a lot of hype during pre-season and training camp over the rookies vying for spots on the roster. Jared McCann racked up points, Jake Virtanen threw crushing hits, Ben Hutton displayed defensive poise and offensive flare, and Brendan Gaunce showed a mature two-way game that looked ready for a third-line role.

There was a lot less hype for Hunter Shinkaruk, even from those like myself who had high hopes for his future. There was a general understanding that Shinkaruk was destined for Utica to build on his mediocre rookie professional season in which he scored just 16 goals and 31 points in 74 games.

I thought he might even spend the entire season in Utica, developing his offensive game in a first-line role and learning the defensive responsibility he’ll need for the next level. I had essentially resigned myself to waiting until next season to see Shinkaruk in the NHL.

Shinkaruk had other ideas.

Sure enough, he started the season in the AHL, but his fantastic start has made it impossible to keep him there. The Canucks called him up to the NHL today basically because they had no choice.

With his goal against the Springfield Falcons on Friday, Shinkaruk moved to a tie for first in the AHL in goals with 10 in just 12 games. That includes two hattricks. His 13 points leads the Comets in scoring and ties him for 10th in the AHL.

Shinkaruk has shown a deft scoring touch, particularly on backdoor one-timers, which is how he scored against Springfield off a sweet feed from Alexandre Grenier on the power play.



That goal is basically a carbon copy of the third goal from his hattrick against the Providence Bruins, right down to the spinning backhand pass from Grenier. As you can see from his second goal in that hattrick, however, it’s not the only way he can score.

His hattrick against the Rochester Americans shows a little more variety and illustrates how Shinkaruk can hurt you in a number of ways: with his shot, with his hands, and with his skating.

The idea of seeing someone with Shinkaruk’s skill in the Canucks’ lineup is extremely exciting, but the timing is interesting. Brandon Prust, who is also a left winger, should be returning from injury soon, giving the Canucks one or two too many left wingers, as Adam Cracknell also plays left wing when he’s not a centre.

It does make me wonder just how bad Brandon Sutter’s injury is, as he was a late scratch from Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators and is expected to miss today’s game as well.

With Sutter out, Cracknell moves to the middle and, with it unclear just when Prust will return, there is definitely an opportunity to get Shinkaruk in the lineup.

The one caveat to Shinkaruk’s success with the Comets so far is that much of it has come on the power play. Five of his ten goals have come with the man advantage, as has one of his assists. Will he even get power play time with the Canucks? Perhaps he should, considering how woeful the Canucks’ power play has looked lately.

In any case, Shinkaruk’s call-up is yet another sign that the Canucks’ youth movement is in full swing and, unlike some other young players, he isn’t being gifted this opportunity -- he earned it.