It’s no secret that to be amongst the best in your craft you have to work the hardest. Amongst the 2013 Entry Draft crop, you won’t find many who work harder than Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hunter Shinkaruk.
Shinkaruk is an offensive dynamo for the Tigers, impressing many with his strong output even after the graduation of Emerson Etem from the program. At 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, he works hard for the offence he generates and the numbers reflect that effort level. In 2012-13, Shinkaruk recorded 37 goals and 86 points in 64 games during the regular season before adding another three goals and six points in the playoffs. Prior to the season, he made a World U18 appearance with Team Canada in 2011-12, recording four goals and eight points in six games.
It has been stated countless times with Shinkaruk, but he is a high motor player who seems to thrive when he is being relied upon the most heavily. Clichés aside, if he can find a way to will his team to a victory, he will. He possesses immense offensive skill as both a playmaker and a finisher and those abilities -- in chorus with his work rate -- mean he is a headache for opposing defences and a massive asset for his team.
There are two knocks on Shinkaruk’s game. First, his size and strength levels are not ideal for the next level. While the latter will improve as he gets older and continues to train, he will likely be easier to neutralise than he is accustomed to by bigger, stronger opposition at the next level. It’s unreasonable to expect him to make the jump and contribute until that strength develops. Second, his defensive game and play away from the puck are not as advanced as some would like. He is prone to slipping into a one-dimensional game.
Despite his physical limitations, Shinkaruk should become a very strong NHL player. While his offensive game is much better than his defensive game at the current time, play away from the puck can be taught at the pro level and learned through additional experience. The work ethic and clear offensive skills will be too much to pass up for most teams and he should, at the very least, round into a quality offensive contributor at the next level.
Expect Shinkaruk to come off the board in the middle of round one at the draft.
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