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(Article)Canucks’ top prospect Hunter Shinkaruk aims to make hometown Flames pay for passing on him twice in NHL draft


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PENTICTON — You can just imagine how Vancouver Canucks prospect Hunter Shinkaruk felt at last June’s NHL entry draft.

He was a consensus first-round pick and the Calgary Flames, his hometown team, had two selections in the opening round, No. 6 and No. 22.

The Shinkaruk family were Flames season-ticket holders — “ever since I can remember” — and Hunter was playing junior down the highway in Medicine Hat. He was hardly hidden from the team’s view. But the Flames passed on Shinkaruk with both their picks, opting instead for forwards Sean Monahan and Emile Poirier. Ouch.

“For sure, it was tough,” said Shinkaruk, who eventually went 24th overall to the Canucks. “They had two chances to take me and, after they didn’t take me with that second pick, I kind of sat back in my seat. That’s not to say that the player they took is not a great player. Obviously they just had a different look at who they needed.”

Interestingly, Poirier is listed as a left-winger, the same position Shinkaruk plays. Poirier scored 47 goals for the Gatineau Olympiques his last two junior seasons while Shinkaruk netted 86, included 49 in 2011-12 alone.

It still seemed to be eating up Shinkaruk on Thursday, prior to the Canucks’ first outing at the Young Stars rookie tournament in Penticton.

“Being a competitive kid, I want to make sure the Flames wished they had taken me with that pick,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be something that will drive me every time I play against them, for sure. If I can get out there and make them pay for not taking me it would be pretty nice.”

If Shinkaruk needed further motivation, he was also passed over by the Edmonton Oilers (seventh), Winnipeg Jets (13th) and the San Jose Sharks (18th), the other three teams competing in the Young Stars tourney. That’s a fairly decent chip to carry on one’s young shoulders. Bitter? Who, him?

“When I was in the gym and on the ice this summer, it was definitely something I was thinking about,” he said. “I knew basically every team here had a chance to pick me. I’m going to make sure they’re going to pay for it.”

That’s a lot of paying. From a Canucks standpoint, what could be better? Shinkaruk hasn’t made the big club yet, and probably won’t this year, and he’s already miffed at three divisional rivals.

“Hunter takes the game seriously,” noted Utica Comets head coach Travis Green, who is running things for the Canucks in Penticton. “He’s got a hunger in his eyes. It looks like he wants to be a hockey player. My first impression is that he’s a really focused kid.”

Shinkaruk understands he is up against it to make the Canucks this season. Vancouver is well-positioned on left wing with veterans Daniel Sedin, David Booth and Chris Higgins. Even Alex Burrows can play the left side. There isn’t much room for an 18-year-old kid, even an elite junior scorer. Shinkaruk turns 19 on Oct. 13.

“You realize it’s pretty tough to make the NHL team but that’s still my goal,” he said. “Obviously those players you mentioned are great players. If I can get into (main) camp and try to fight for a job, that’s all I can ask. It’s definitely nice to see that in the near future, I’m going to have a little bit more of an opportunity, I guess. But at the end of the day, it’s hockey and you’re going to be fighting for jobs the rest of your life.”

At a listed 5-10 and 181 pounds, Shinkaruk isn’t the largest of bodies. His assets are his speed, his hands and his finish, plus an apparent ability to get mad at a bunch of teams.

“Obviously when you come to an NHL camp, you don’t know what the organization and coaches are thinking about,” he said. “So every time you get on the ice, you want to make an impression. I’m going to try to keep doing that throughout the week. I want to show them who I am as a player and as a kid.”

ICE CHIPS: The Canucks announced Thursday the format for main camp that begins next Wednesday and will be held at both Rogers Arena and UBC. A total of 36 players, plus additions from the Young Star roster, will attend ... Sessions at Rogers Arena, Sept. 13-15, will be free and open to the public, providing fans register at canucks.com/scrimmages ... Each of those days will start with a 9 a.m. scrimmage, followed by practices at 10, 11 and 12:30 p.m.

Make them pay, Hunter

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This kids heart is what is going to put him above from the rest. Not to say others don't have heart, but his passion and drive is so vast that you just see it in his face whenever he's on the ice. ...saying it again, Shinkaruk is going to be one hell of a player who will be a game changer.

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Shinkaruk doesn't need anyone to create space for him. He is fiesty and fearless in traffic and isn't afraid to get physical. Kid fights for every inch of ice. He drew 2 or 3 defenders to him and created space for Horvat yesterday. He's spent the last 3 years playing in a tight checking WHL which is known for producing top end NHL defenders, the same defenders he's had to face the last 2 years.
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