A Shame Shinkaruk Didn’t Get A Shot Here

Although a part of the organization since draft day nearly three years ago, Hunter Shinkaruk’s stay with the Vancouver Canucks really only amounted to 13 shifts and 9:35 of ice time. That was all he got in his one and only look at the big league level earlier this season in Montreal. And that, to me, is the biggest shame in all of this.

That on a team struggling so mightily to score goals this season – Sunday night versus Colorado notwithstanding – the Canucks refused to give their leading goal-scoring prospect more than one brief look at the tail end of a road trip when those around him had nothing left in the tank. Oh, and they used a guy oozing skill at a lower level in a bottom six role that night. Welcome to the National Hockey League, kid. 

A lot is being said by both sides after Monday’s eyebrow-raising deal between the Canucks and the Calgary Flames. The Canucks acknowledged Shinkaruk’s goal-scoring ability at the American Hockey League level where he led the Utica Comets with 21 goals in 45 games. In the same breath, though, general manager Jim Benning expressed concerns about whether Shinkaruk would be able to score those same goals at the next level. For their part, the Flames say they project the Calgary native as a top-six forward which means Shinkaruk will join the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Sam Bennett as the offensive future of one of the Canucks’ chief rivals.

Again, it’s all just talk today and nobody knows for sure. That’s the beauty of trades like this one – everyone has an opinion and with Twitter they’ve got an outlet to express it. The downside, of course, is that so much of the reaction is just noise with so little based in fact. Few – and I’ll put myself at the top of this list — have watched Shinkaruk shift in and shift out this season. Oh, like many, I’ve seen highlights and the goals certainly jump off YouTube and the stats page, but other than that I have no first-hand knowledge of the areas Shinkaruk has developed his game or the ways in which he needs to improve still to make the jump to the NHL. I read as much as I could out of Utica and it certainly sounded like Shinkaruk had made strides in some of those areas needed to be more than a one-dimensional goal-scorer.

At the same time, though, I have to admit I was intrigued by the notion that the Canucks had a one-dimensional guy waiting in the wings because as an organization they are so sorely lacking in the one dimension that Hunter Shinkaruk excels. To me, Shinkaruk wasn’t so much a player as he was an idea – one of hope for higher scoring days ahead for the Vancouver Canucks. Markus Granlund may turn into a solid piece of the Canucks future, but on the surface, he just doesn’t represent hope the same way Shinkaruk does. Or did before he was dealt away to a division rival.

shinkaruk

Now, I seem to recall much of the Canucks fan base was hardly enthused when the team sent a second round pick to the hated Flames for Sven Baertschi a year ago. Twelve months later, it appears the Canucks made out just fine in that transaction although it will be some time still before a final verdict can be rendered. However, with Baertschi sitting at a dozen goals after a slow start to his season, there’s very little grumbling now.

With Monday’s deal, most of the early reviews have not been favourable for the Canucks management group, but that’s likely just loyalty being shown to a player the fans here had been longing for. Shinkaruk had sizzle that few recent Canucks prospects have had. There’s no need to revisit the organization’s recent history of drafting and developing NHL scorers. The proof is on the ice – and on the scoreboard — on a nightly basis these days.

At first glance, there isn’t much lustre to Granlund even though put up better numbers in the AHL than Shinkaruk and already has 86 games of NHL experience under his belt. In his post-trade conference call Benning trumpeted his new acquisition’s two-way game and his ability to penalty kill. There’s nothing wrong with that type of player, but it seems the Canucks already have a few of those on the roster and more waiting in the wings. What they don’t have is an abundance of pure goal scorers.

The page has been turned on Hunter Shinkaruk’s brief time in the Vancouver Canucks organization. He’s now a Calgary Flame and in due time we’ll see if he comes back to burn his former team  — a team, that for whatever reasons, wasn’t willing to give the guy with the big-league shot a legitimate shot to show what he could do in the NHL.

  • I think a lot of the frustration expressed by the fanbase is the realization of what Shinkaruk is NOW.

    He is simply not valued by the industry as the guy that was a potential top 10 selection at the 2013 draft.

    I don’t know who will end up winning this trade but I suspect neither organization will lose sleep over what they lost.

  • TrueBlue

    Great reflection on the situation. Best line in the whole thing that sums it up for me is that Shinkaruk’s potential to be proficient was more of a concept than a reality.

    Can he do it at the NHL level? Who knows. But we made four 1st round picks in two years, and Shinkaruk always seemed like the x-factor.

    Some of the shine wore off after he was a late cut from Team Canada’s WJC team and he opted for hip surgery. More of the shine more off when he had a slow first year in Utica. But then he bounced back this year and started tearing it up.

    With all of our other top prospects doing well and even some secondary prospects looking like they might make a difference, my overall feeling of our prospect pool was punctuated with a sense of “hey.. if Shinkaruk can develop into an impact player too…” A sort of vague feeling that his contribution could be the straw that makes the youth movement succeed.

    But he’s not the linchpin to the rebuild. This season he felt like found money, and I guess this is how funky it feels to “lose” something that felt like a bonus.

  • peterl

    another over valued prospect by our educated fan bas…

    most of his scoring has been done on the PP, his even strength scoring wasn’t anything to write home about.

    his small stature and unwillingness to get in the tuff areas and lack of defensive game were never going to allow him to become successful at the NHL level.

    his goal scoring wasn’t going to make up the difference. I am glad we got something for him while we could.

    reminds me a lot of Jordan Schroeder and how we got nothing for a once potentially high prospect that we got nothing for after realizing he didn’t have a future as a regular in the NHL.

    Granlund is actually solid, not elite or exciting but solid return.

    I think after Hank goes is where we will see the benefit of Granlund and his 2 way game.

  • peterl

    I agree with the points above and think there is another reason why adding Granlund at the expense of Shinkaruk is a strange move: the Canucks cupboard of depth, two-way forwards is reasonably stocked right now. Brandon Sutter fits the Benning’s description of Granlund and is signed long-term. Fans, media, and management have given high praise to Bo Horvat for his two-way game and penalty killing. Jared McCann is much more unrefined, but he has drawn comparisons to Ryan Kesler for his two-way game (at least in junior).

    Acquiring another young two-way center/forward at this point seems to be an odd move by the Canucks.

  • peterl

    This trade has been the last straw for me… in terms of Blundering GM moves.

    Luca Sbisa 3.6M….fine..
    Derek Dorsett….fine…

    Hunter Shinkaruk was a 100% Canuck product, drafted and developed here for 2 years, and with as high a ceiling as any of our prospects. Yet we choose to acquire and develop other team’s rejected prospects who couldn’t cut it (with all due respect to Mr. Vey, Baertshi, and Etem) rather than give our own guy even a chance?

    As for Mr.Granlund, who by all accounts sounds like a smallish, soft undersized center who needs more grit, didn’t we already try this experiment with Linden Vey? How well did that turn out?

  • Cageyvet

    I am basically paraphrasing what I had said in a previous post but here goes.

    Most Canucks fans completely over valued him as a prospect and this site (among others) was a big part of the problem. CA pumped his tires hard this season and was so focused on what he was doing they neglected to mention anything related to what he wasn’t doing. They completely failed to mention that nearly half his goals and points came on the power play, that he is mostly a perimeter player who is afraid to go to the dirty areas, who is soft on the puck, who has no will or desire to play defense and has an attitude problem when coaches try to change him.

    Leading an AHL team at a young age while impressive does not some how make it acceptable to overlook his shortcomings, shortcomings that would be completely exposed at the NHL level. Which seems to be the driving force in trading him.

    Most fans got caught up in Sharkaruk’s what he could be when they should have been focussing on what he is.

    Markus Granlund put up the exact same numbers during his AHL career as Shinkaruk is right now but is a more complete player who already has nearly 100 NHL games under his belt.

    Like all of JB’s trades, he traded the “what could be” for the “what is.” When fast-tracking a re-build there is no room for gambling on future potential.

    • Fred-65

      >> When fast-tracking a re-build there is no room for gambling on future potential.

      See, I was with you 100% riiiiight up til the end.

      The general principle is that 90% of your choices should be solid, dependable, low-risk guaranteed return type choices. But 10% should be high-risk high-reward type choices. That mix gives you a solid base of growth with the potential to really fast-track things if you hit on your flyer. And if your high-risk choice is a bust (which it probably will be, pretty much by definition) you don’t lose sleep over it because you didn’t bet the farm.

      If Shinkaruk was the Canucks shot at high-risk, high-reward then yeah it’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out but, “Meh”. Sure, you cut your losses, but then add back in something that gives you that potential to hit a home run. Maybe the Canucks pick up someone at the draft, maybe they go after Drouin.

      The point is they need *someone* with the potential to be elite. I think you have to gamble on future potential, but you shouldn’t gamble it all.

      • TrueBlue

        I was being a little too cut and dry with that final statement. I’ll explain what I meant.

        The 90/10 rule is sound and I agree with it 100%. The problem is the Canucks aren’t at 90% yet. They don’t yet have the foundation set to be able to withstand a swing and a miss

        They need to continue acquiring what they know – the safe solid pieces in order to solidify the foundation. Once the core is stable and they know what they have and more importantly they know who could be expendable then they have the ability to take a chance or two, but at this point it doesn’t make sense to gamble on potential when they need as many known commodities as possible.

        That was my intent with that final comment.

        I’ll stick to my assertions that Shinkaruk was not as high-potential as everyone is making him out to be, if he was, he wouldn’t have been traded. That being said it makes sense to move him for another known commodity and take a swing at a bigger fish later.

  • peterl

    At this point, I don’t mind this trade. Another poster above outlined Hunter’s PP vs: even strength scoring, grit , defense etc. all of which are very valid points. I have no problem with a first line that scores, say 25 each avg., a second line that scores as well as a third line, in the 15-20 range and a fourth line that chips in as well….WHEN ALL ARE DEFENSIVELY RESPONSIBLE, as in solid two way players. Was Hunter ever going to fit into that, anywhere? As I said, time will tell.

  • peterl

    Benning basically said Shinkaruk was redundant piece after Baertschi and…Rodin. Irony is Granlund seems pretty redundant, no? Do we really need another “two-way” guy who has struggled to stay in the line-up of another bottom-dwelling team?

  • peterl

    No, this deal stinks of Aquilini meddling and Traitor Jim panic. Shinkaruk is a perimeter player? That was the knock against Baertschi and look, he started driving the net and is scoring goals. Shinkaruk lacks physical stature? Vey was criticized for it so he added +10 lbs of muscle over the summer and came back as a stronger, better player. Shinkaruk scoring most of his goals on the power play? Good thing we got rid of him because he would have ruined our 26th best power play (17.3%). Traitor Jim dumped him because he needs to make playoffs even though the odds are 3.7% and plummeting.

  • TrueBlue

    Stocking the system with high ceiling guys is a necessity if you want to win without drafting 1st or 2nd overall. Shinkaruk was a high ceiling guy. Maybe he wouldn’t have worked out, but if he did, his potential was on the first line. People say “oh look, Granlund scored in the AHL too and see how that worked out”. That’s exactly the point, you trade a guy with the potential to excel in the NHL (based on his AHL numbers) for a guy who you already know didn’t.

    What’s worse, Benning stills seems incapable of addressing the team’s biggest needs going forwards: top end scoring and top end D (yes, those are pretty big issues, which might be why the team is so lousy). He mentioned in interviews that they asked about some defencemen and couldn’t get anyone they liked. OK, great, so how about you just wait? Why do this trade now, instead of waiting for the market to open up? Granlund is more NHL ready, but who the hell cares, we don’t need “NHL ready” as much as we need “guys who can fill future holes”? This season is over for us, and if you can’t appreciate that by now, you have no place being the GM.

  • Cageyvet

    I didn’t even bother posting yesterday because CanucksArmy was suddenly as hysterical as a One Direction concert, but I’m glad to see people coming back down to earth today.

    I don’t know if we won or lost this trade. I don’t know who will be the better NHLer, but I do know that Shinkaruk’s current AHL season – replete with a 19% shooting percentage and not very many even strength points – could certainly be described as “percentage driven” and potentially “unsustainable”. And this trade could be described as “selling high”. Those are all things I learned to be important on this website.

    It’s clear that Jim Benning and Company decided quite some time ago that HS was a trade chip, amassed a list of young D to go after, went after them, and were turned down in each case. From there, they clearly identified young forwards to go after instead and Granlund was one of them – for better or worse.

    One thing that has been reinforced over and over again the GMJB is that he is very decisive – again for good or ill – when it comes to player personnelle issues. If he likes you he will go get you and he doesn’t like you, you are gone.

  • I feel like when GMJB says he likes a player because of his “great two-way game” and being “good on the PK” what he’s really saying is “we need this guy because we’re never going to have the puck and we’re going to take a lot of penalties. Like A LOT of penalties.”

  • What’s truly baffling is the fact that the Canuck’s traded a former Medicine Hat Tiger!

    All the best to Hunter. When you were still a Canuck, you were clearly our future first line sniper. Now that you’re gone, it is clear to me that you were more Jordan Schroeder than Martin St. Louis.

  • Fred-65

    What worries me is Benning’s moves to saddle us with too many 3rd pairing D (Bartkowski, Weber, Biega, Sbisa) and 3rd and 4th line forwards (Prust, Vey, Etem, Dorsett, Cracknell, Granlund) while giving up on draft picks that, given a chance, may be special (Shink and Forsling). He has done nothing to improve our top 2 Defensive pairings or out top 6 forwards. Soon we could be a team that gets goals “by committee” because we have no high end talent.

  • Fred-65

    Shinkaruk has I believe waiver eligibility left, Granlund is guaranteed a roster spot in Vcr next season.

    Shinaruk represented possible excitement and entertainment. Granlund represents more 3rd-4th line grinding.

    When I pay to watch the Canucks ‘d like to think I will be entertained.

    This teams will be filled up with “200’ ” players Whoopee Do.

    I can see fans forking out big money to watch Granlund ( not)

  • Fred-65

    Ya got me! And I guess is must be an objective fact that Donald Trump will be a terrific President because he is polling so darn well. The plural of anecdote is not data.

    • Cageyvet

      Geez, where do I begin here? While I recognize the logical fallacy of “bandwagon fallacy”, there *is* validity to the concept of the “wisdom of the crowd”. See Jame Surowiecki’s 2004 book of the same name which argues that there is validity to aggregated opinions and that in certain cases, can lead to very accurate predictions. If we extend your logic, you inply that *all* polls are invalid because they are based on opinion, which I categorically reject.

      Second, it’s absolutely laughable that in attempting to debunk my position via a logical fallacy, you commit one yourself! Your attempt to exaggerate my position by introducing the irrelevant Trump issue is a “strawman fallacy”. I quoted three polls, two of which come from non-Calgary/Vancouver affiliated hockey sites (Sportsnet and TSN) which leads to a voter base that has a probability of being a) informed about hockey and b) in favour of teams other than the Canucks. Why did you inject the absurd and irrelevant commeny about Trump? Go ahead, rationalize that position and show me the parallel between the trade and US partisan politics.

  • Fred-65

    The worst part about this franchise are those fans that whine and seemingly cry about things they do not fathom. This was a great unbiased article that discusses the different viewpoints of the trade, it doesn’t really confirm or deny a positive or negative gain from this transaction… The few fans that are adamant that they know things that the pros in this business do not, would have you believe otherwise.

  • Fred-65

    Why now?

    This is kind of the crux of the issue. Why now?

    What was the pressing urgent need to trade Shinkaruk now? If management is to be believed, Shinkaruk was currently only worth a 3rd/4th line forward who has achieved extremely mediocre results in the NHL (and who was totally superfluous to Calgary). If the return was so poor, then why execute the trade at this juncture?

    There is no compelling reason to not simply wait for the trade market to improve. If Shinkaruk trended downward, well there is no significant loss as players like Granlund can easily be found every summer in free agency for cheap.

    You don’t trade potential that is waiver protected for two more years for a single depth player that is RFA and waiver eligible. You don’t trade two birds in the bush for half a bird in the hand.

    Madness!

    If the return on trading a promising prospect is mediocre, then you wait.

    The only way to defend this move is to argue that Shinkaruk’s offense is about to fall off a cliff, or that Granlund’s offense is about to skyrocket; or both. Neither outcome appears likely. Let’s hope it’s the latter (although, with this management I find myself having to ‘hope’ for success much more than observing it).

  • Fred-65

    They should have showcased him after the trade deadline and tried to pry a Dman in the summer. Even if he didn’t put up great numbers I sure they still could have picked up Markus Granlund in the offseason for Hunter.

    Also, I have my doubts about Rodins game translating to the NHL. Seems like a perimeter player as well, and was pretty unspectacular in the A during his time here.

  • Fred-65

    that’s two guys we’ve traded for that hartley won’t play. benning obviously thinks hartley does not know how to use talent. is there an analytic out there on ex-flame plumbers doing well when not under hartley’s thumb?

    also, i have no idea if shinkaruk has a shot but does anyone else think it’s weird calgary took him if the knock on him is he’s not a physical player. i don’t see burke or hartley being interested in a guy who won’t go to the net.

  • if the canucks fire sale all their aging talent like everybody on this site wants then they are going to need some nhl role players next year to maintain some continuity and avoid going full oiler.

    granlund is a better bet than shinkaruk to do that. i’d like a bigger guy to do it but at least granlund is no smaller than the guy he replaced.

  • Fred-65

    Let’s not simply look at this move in isolation. Centres are valuable. If Benning is going to trade for other assets, he needs depth at this key position. Granlund does provide the GM with a better asset mix now.

    I could also see a scenario where McCann is in the AHL next year. Sutter also started the season on the wing. It’s ultimately about roster construction, so all of the moving parts should be considered.

  • What is done cannot be undone. GM Benning better be sure that Hunter won’t be a nhl player, since Hunter will come back to haunt us at least 6 times a year if he turns out to be wrong…

  • Fred-65

    There are some very good points about why we should have done this trade. However I am still not a fan of this deal as I feel shinkaruk could have garnered a better return if paired with another player in a trade. (Example: vrbata, shinkaruk for a young nhl ready defenseman, Or Drouin etc…) In the end I think it was poor asset management and there’s been too much of that already.

  • Fred-65

    Though Hunter lost a year of development to injury he was a first line all-star in the AHL this year.
    Granlund maxes out as a bottom-six forward for a team drowning in such players. There’s a good chance for Granlund being lost on waivers next year.
    Hunter has had no chance to show his NHL potential in the NHL. (BTW though Gaunce played well in his 2 NHL games he never got a third.)
    This trade sucks now and will suck further in two years when Hunter gets 20 goals for the Flames.