I have one goal and that’s to make the big club and that’s all I’m thinking about right now. - Hunter Shinkaruk
CALGARY, AB -- The novelty hasn’t worn off yet.
Neither has the smile.
And it’s the fuel forward Hunter Shinkaruk hopes can power him to a full-time position with the Calgary Flames.
“It’s definitely really cool still,” said Shinkaruk, who was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for centre Markus Granlund a week prior to the NHL trade deadline in late February.
“Being from Calgary, living from here, spending summers here, it’s been pretty neat. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not many kids can say they’ve been traded to their hometown and get a chance to play for their childhood team. For me it’s pretty cool.
“I’m still excited about it. My family and friends are all excited. There’s no better opportunity than the chance to come home and try to bring home a championship.
“It’s pretty cool.”
The business end of things hasn’t put a damper on that dream, either.
But Shinkaruk knows it’s there.
He saw it first hand when forward Joe Colborne, also a Calgary native, left the Flames to join the Colorado Avalanche via free agency.
It puts the opportunity in perspective for the 21-year-old.
“I think that, obviously with him going to Colorado, it shows you that it’s great to have a hometown kid who plays well and has success but at the end of the day it’s a business and you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” Shinkaruk said.
“It’s pretty cool that he got to live that experience. You never know. It’s a business. You never know if the next day you’re going to be gone. You have to enjoy it. At the end of the day he’s playing in the NHL, waking up doing what he loves to do every day.
“No matter what team it’s on you wake up and enjoy it.”
Shinkaruk's opportunity to enjoy is upcoming.
He split the balance of the 2015-16 season following his trade to Calgary with 17 games of Stockton of the American Hockey League and seven skates with the Flames.
Those seven games produced his first two NHL goals, and first three points.
And the confidence that he can earn more.
“I think when I got the taste of playing the last seven games, I know I can play in that league. It’s up to me to make sure I work on little details in my game, getting stronger this summer, and at the end of the day there’s no doubt in my mind I can play and that’s where my mind set is. I’m not thinking about anything else.”
He’s not looking back at those seven games.
He’s not thinking of returning to the minors, where he’s amassed 43 goals and 82 points over the course of 136 games in his first two seasons of professional hockey, either.
Shinkaruk’s only focus is forward.
About making the Flames.
The team he grew up rooting for.
“I’ve only played seven games with Calgary,” he said. “I’ve spent most of the time in Stockton. At the end of the day I don’t really think about it too much. The summer is my time to become a better player, work out, and enjoy the summer. I’m just trying to enjoy it.
“I have one goal and that’s to make the big club and that’s all I’m thinking about right now.
“We’ll see what happens. That’s where my mind set is.”