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Shinkaruk waits longer than expected to be picked

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- Hunter Shinkaruk had to wait a lot longer than expected to hear his name called Sunday at the 2013 NHL Draft. All that extra waiting time did was give him some added incentive.

Shinkaruk, a forward with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League who was rated No. 6 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, wasn't chosen until the Vancouver Canucks called his named with the 24th pick in the first round. But falling toward the bottom of the opening round did nothing to diminish the thrill of being drafted for the Calgary native.

"I'm so excited to go to Vancouver, it's unbelievable," Shinkaruk told "It definitely was a pretty long wait … a little longer than I had anticipated. But at the end of the day, a lot of things happen on draft day and it's going to be something that motivates me to prove all those teams wrong."

Shinkaruk rang up 37 goals and 86 points in 64 games with Medicine Hat in 2012-13; he has 100 goals and 219 points in 193 career games for the Tigers. He was the only forward from the WHL to rank among the top 10 players on Central Scouting's list.

He said going to Vancouver is a big opportunity.

"They have unbelievable players in Vancouver, and to have that opportunity to play with them is something I am very much looking forward too," Shinkaruk said. "There's a lot of work that I have to do this summer so that when I get into camp, I'm as ready to go."

He's not daunted at the prospect of playing for new coach John Tortorella, who got the job this past week and is known as a taskmaster.

"You see him on television and on the interviews … I don't know too much about him, but he's a great coach," Shinkaruk said. "He's won a Stanley Cup, so knowing I have an opportunity to learn from him at some point is unbelievable … I can't wait."

Shinkaruk served as the team's captain this past season. At 5-foot-10.25, 181 pounds, he said the most common question asked by scouts was how he compensates for his lack of size on the ice.

"I'm not the biggest guy, there's no secret to that, but I have a lot of confidence in my game and there are a lot of good players in the NHL smaller than me who have answered that question for me," he said. "I've never felt like I'm a smaller player. I compete hard and I'm going to be as strong as I can be in my frame. Size is something I can't control but what I can control is being the best player I can be. Just be the best I can with what I'm given."

He was glad to have the support of his mom and dad as he waited for his name to be called.

"They were trying to comfort me," Shinkaruk said. "They just put it in perspective and said that I've worked this hard to get here and to just enjoy this process. I'm sure they were a little tense as well. I'm lucky to have great parents who kept it into perspective for me."


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