Horvat and Shinkaruk To Start Season with the Canucks

Well, there you have it. We’ve spent the past few weeks mulling over the idea that the Canucks could start the season with some of their top prospects in the lineup, and now it’s looking like that will be the case. After the 5-0 spanking of Rangers to conclude the preseason slate of games last night, the team sent Frankie Corrado back to Utica, and assigned Brendan Gaunce back to his junior team, the Belleville Bulls.

This shouldn’t really come as a surprise at anyone at this point, since the writing was certainly on the wall following the Zack Kassian suspension and Jordan Schroeder injury (not to mention Nicklas Jensen’s issues). Both Horvat and Shinkaruk shined in the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, and then more than held their own this preseason.

What’s next for both the team, and the two players themselves? Read on past the jump.

That’s a big disclaimer, though, as Mike Gillis – during his appearance on the Midday Show yesterday – certainly made it sound like the team was just waiting to pounce on the waiver wire at this point. I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that.

During that same appearance Gillis also had a very telling quote when asked about Frank Corrado, stating that "it doesn’t make sense for any young player to be watching from the stands and not playing". So for the time being, I’d expect both guys to get legitimate ice-time for as long as they’re up (or until they prove that they’re not capable of handling it).

For what it’s worth, in today’s practice Shinkaruk skated with Santorelli and Booth on what’s essentially the team’s 3rd line, with Horvat centering Weise and Sestito. If Botchford is right, then Richardson would most likely replace Sestito on the 4th line.

This is a story we’ll undoubtedly be tracking for the next few weeks, as it’s very fluid. Remember that a junior player can play up to 9 games as a "trial period" of sorts. After that the Canucks will have to determine whether it’s worth it to keep them up, or whether they’re better off sending them back down to Medicine Hat (Shinkaruk) and London (Horvat), respectively. 

Heading into the preseason I thought that there was no way that Shinkaruk in particular would be ready to handle the NHL level from a physical perspective, and while that may very well still prove to be true, he has earned his chance for the time being. As for Horvat, the track record for 18-year old centers sticking around at the NHL level isn’t all that good, but the Canucks are clearly in win-now mode, and their lack of depth down the middle works in his favour.

For what it’s worth that 9th game would be on October 19th at Pittsburgh; Kassian and Schroeder should conceivably be ready to go by then. It’s up to the two ’13 1st rounders to force the team’s hand, I guess.

What do you think about all of this? Are you happy to see them start the year with the team? And do you think that they’ll play well enough to stick around after that?

  • Mantastic

    Considering that the Canucks already passed on Jim O’Brien, I wonder what type of player Gillis is planning to “pounce” on. Wouldn’t picking up O’Brien given the Canucks another option on the 4th. Has some NHL experience and is still only 24. He was deployed more than any other center in Ottawa last year in the defensive zone and has decent size at 6’2 200 lbs.

    Is Gillis expecting a top 6 forward to be waived?

  • Considering that the Canucks already passed on Jim O’Brien, I wonder what type of player Gillis is planning to “pounce” on. Wouldn’t picking up O’Brien given the Canucks another option on the 4th. Has some NHL experience and is still only 24. He was deployed more than any other center in Ottawa last year in the defensive zone and has decent size at 6’2 200 lbs.

    Is Gillis expecting a top 6 forward to be waived?

  • Mantastic

    most likely once Kassian is back, they’ll make a decision because there is a chance they’ll sit one of the rookies which isn’t ideal or they could demote Kassian without waiver fear.

  • Tough to say whether it’ll work out, but I’m definitely glad they’re giving Shinkaruk a longer look.

    Horvat’s been good, but it definitely seems like he’ll be sent down eventually. In the interim, I’m glad he’s up because it bumps Sestito out of the opening night roster.

    • Peachy

      The big reason (to me) not to push them to the 9 game limit is in case you need to use them in the playoffs. If they’re truly the best option, due to depth, injuries, whatever, you want to use them when it counts. Not at the start of the season.

      I don’t think the Canucks have much of a choice though, and I suppose if we’re using these guys in the playoffs it means one of:

      a) we’re already doomed;
      b) they’ve demonstrated that they’re clearly ready for big jobs in the NHL.

      Dear god though, don’t stick Horvat with Sestito. Weise, maybe. Give him something to work with, even if it’s suboptimal for the team in the short run.

      • Mantastic

        only reason why Horvat played with Sestito is because Weise was still suspended. opening night roster you shouldn’t expect Sestito to be playing with Bo

      • KleptoKlown

        Good point about the playoff possibility.

        Although if the team needs them in the playoffs, Horvat and/or Shinkaruk could play well above 9 games anyway.

        In theory, at least…

        • antro

          Exactly–although that’s precisely what they did with Corrado. And hindsight 20/20, they may well regret it now. How sweet would it be if Corrado still had 3 years of ELC?

          • antro

            In regards to years of team control and potential arbitration raises for baseball players, Keith Law has made a point with which I agree.

            A front office should primarily worry about manipulating service time for potential stars.

            That’s where the big financial savings come into play.

            As far as I can tell, Corrado projects to be a 2nd/3rd pairing defenseman IF he hits his ceiling.

            Not unlike Chris Tanev.

            Of course, the overwhelming majority of prospects fail to hit their ceilings.

            For all we know, the most valuable thing Corrado ever does in his career is play 3rd pairing minutes in the 2013 playoffs.

            Team control over replacement players is inherently devoid of value.

            Even if Corrado hits, his asset value will not have diminished all that much.

            Burning a year of a middle-bottom of the roster player is simply not going to be as significant as it would be for the next Shea Weber…

          • orcasfan

            That’s a very good point, NMOO. I think that approach adds an important perspective on the whole issue of “burning” ELC years.

            Are the Canucks going to be contending this year? I don’t know…who would have thought that Detroit were going to suddenly almost steal the West last season? They were able to do so because their depth players and prospects really stepped up. Who’s to say that the same can’t happen to other teams, including the Canucks? Would I bet on it? No…but then I wouldn’t have bet on Detroit’s run either!

            Of course, the other important factor is the injury bug. If a team avoids it, and rivals are hit, it all becomes somewhat unpredictable.

      • JCDavies

        If they get sent back to junior, I don’t think you can count on either player being available for the playoffs. Especially Horvat; the Knights are hosting the Memorial Cup and their season won’t end until mid-to-late May.

  • andyg

    When you watch these two play it is easy to forget that they are just 18 and came out of this years draft. 2013 may turn out to be a very good draft year for a lot of teams. I doubt that they will be hear all year but next, we could have 5 or 6 kids pushing for a roster spot. On a side note; Santorelli has really impressed me and it is nice to see a local boy get a shot. Hope he does well!

  • antro

    How much time would Horvat get playing fourth line center? Can’t see him sticking. Shinkaruk on the wing might get hot, but honestly, don’t see him sticking either.

  • andyg

    After Gillis failed to acquire Boyd Gordon this summer, I said: “they’ll be looking to acquire a 3C/4C at trade deadline in 2014. This will be the 4rd consecutive yr they’ve done so. They’ve given up a 2nd rounder, a 3rd rounder, two-4th rounders, and Kevin Connauton during this charade”.

    That’s a hellava lot to give up for nothing in return. Not one of those ‘ centre acquisitions’ is currently on the Canucks roster. It’s all been for not.

    Santorelli or Richardson as a 3C? What 26 of whiskey was Gillis drinking when he thought this possible? Would you rather have Richardson (who I haven’t noticed all preseason) @ 2y $2.25M, or Boyd Gordon @ 3y, $9M. It’s a no brainer.

    Like you Dimitri, I thought of all the youngins, Hunter would be the least probable on opening night. But he’s been pretty good. I’ve like Bo better though. He reminds me of Chris Tanev as a forward, he snuffs out plays. Cuts them off before they starts, he reads the play so well. But there’s no way an 18 yr old should play in the NHL. Let’s not kill their development cause Gillis failed to pick up a tough minutes centre again.

    • antro

      As much as I enjoy the “Gillis sucks” undertone of your post, a third line centre wouldn’t magically propel Vancouver to another deep playoff run.

      Derek Roy sure didn’t…

      • antro

        Yeah, but Kris Draper sure did…

        Roy was never a #3 centre; he was a miscast #1-2, basically brought in with the idea that Kess couldn’t do more than #3 minutes. I’m hoping that Santorelli can be a quality #3, but I’m not sure we won’t just get Roy redux. I guess if Kess can play most of the season healthy we can have a 3rd line dedicated to sheltered minutes & generating offence. I would much rather see two good checking lines–or at least two consistent & defensively sound lines–at the bottom of the depth chart.

        • antro

          I think you misunderstand my point.

          Derek Roy, or Boyd Gordon for that matter, would certainly improve the team.

          But is this team a quality 3rd line centre away from returning to legit contender status?

          • andyg

            I think that Boyd Gordon would improve our team; I think that Roy would not. Let me explain: With Gordon, you have a decent defensive player who wins faceoffs. With Roy, you have an offence-driven centre who is at best adequate on faceoffs, and is decent, but not outstanding by any stretch, defensively.

            With Roy, Kesler is required to take more defensive assignments, which will inevitably result in two things: fewer starts in the attack zone, and more time defending & blocking shots. With Gordon, Kesler can give many of the d-zone faceoffs and defensive assignments to Gordon. This means more o-zone starts for Kesler, and more of an opportunity to put up points.

            Roy is good, but Kess is better. If Santa is like Roy, then we have less Kess on offense & more Kess on “d”–and, incidentally, a larger possibility of Kess getting injured.

            So, yes; I do think that Vancouver is one Malhotra-style #3 centre from being a legit contender (with Chi, Pittsburgh) as opposed to being ranked as a pretender (with Montreal, LA, Boston, Washington, St, Louis & Detroit). But that status is very dependent on Kesler being able to put up 70+ games.

          • andyg

            This hits the head on the decline of the Canucks over the last 2 years.The loss of Manny left a huge gap to fill and injury’s to Kes just made it worse. I think Manny is the hardest to replace and the most important for a playoff team.

          • andyg

            What would be wrong with giving the tough minutes to Kesler (along with some PP time) and giving the offensive chances to someone like Roy?

            Why must Kesler and his linemates be the ones putting up the goals and points?

            The objective of the game is to outscore the opponent.

            Whether it be through skill, size, speed, favourable starts to player A, tough minutes to player B it doesn’t really matter.

            I don’t believe there is an essentialist style to play the game.

            And I don’t believe there is an essentialist usage pattern that dictates player A must be used as an offensive player or a defensive player.

            The objective remains to outscore the opponent.

    • andyg

      Santorelli may surprise us all. When you hear Tort’s say best conditioned athlete on teem you start to understand how much work this kid did to make the roster. He has always had the skill but has not been able to be consistent at the nhl level.

  • andyg

    All I will ever remember about Roy is how the Canucks’ possession numbers tanked as soon as he came on board.

    I’m interested to see how St. Louis fares with him.