Hunter Shinkaruk is coming home. He grew up cheering for the Calgary Flames, and now he will be get a chance to wear the jersey of his childhood team.
But that isn’t why Brad Treliving acquired Shinkaruk. Brad Treliving is not nearly sentimental enough to trade for a player just so that he could play for his childhood team, and play in front of family and friends.
Make no mistake about it, the Calgary Flames acquired Hunter because he is a very good hockey player, with tremendous upside.
Acquiring Shinkaruk almost seemed like fate as the 2013 NHL Entry Draft approached, the Calgary Flames were armed with three first round picks, but ultimately ended up taking Monahan, Poirier, and Klimchuk.
The Calgary Flames, under the happy-go-lucky Jay Feaster passed on Shinkaruk at the 22 spot instead taking Poirier. Calgary Flames fans were a little annoyed that they passed on a guy ranked in the top ten to take a player ranked in the second round.
A few seasons later it seemed the Calgary Flames made the right choice with Poirier outscoring Shinkaruk in both major junior and their rookie years in the AHL, but something wasn’t quite right with Shinkaruk over that time.
Shinkaruk actually was playing injured with a bad hip problem, hiding it from others similar to Sam Bennett with his shoulder. It got to a point where Hunter couldn’t run or sit normally, unaware of this fact many people began to doubt Hunter’s abilities, including Vancouver.
Once he was healthy, Hunter bounced back brilliantly this year, leading his AHL team in scoring with 21 goals and 39 points in 45 games, It still wasn’t enough to convince the Canucks that Shinkaruk was a worthwhile player.
Enter Brad Treliving.
The Calgary Flames undoubtedly saw a talented and competitive young man who had his development slowed down by injuries, but had top-six potential on the wing, something the Calgary Flames needed.
Outside of Gaudreau there isn’t a lot of NHL level skill on the wings, and with two good centres in Monahan and Bennett, finding a good winger like Shinkaruk was important.
Sure Shinkaruk is on the small side, and he can be knocked off pucks easily now, but you can’t teach the intangibles he has. The competitive spirit, the offensive instincts, as well as his blazing speed and wicked shot.
If Hunter is able to pump some iron this summer and put on 5-10 pounds of muscle, he could become a top six forward in the NHL, something that Markus Granlund wasn’t going to be.
Vancouver Canucks fans absolutely hate this trade, go to any Canuck hockey blog and you’ll see comments like “Fire Benning”, and “I’m done with this team”.
But I don’t see the trade as being that lopsided for the Flames. Granlund scored at similar rates to Shinkaruk in the AHL, but just couldn’t translate it at the NHL level. While Granlund has superior defensive instincts, he doesn’t possess the speed or dynamic offensive potential of Shinkaruk.
In Granlund, the Canucks will get a top nine centre-man who can score 30 points a year and play on the penalty kill, nothing sexy but a useful bottom six option.
But the Calgary Flames have the potential of getting a top-six forward who will end up playing with a very good centre-man, and could score 50-60 points a year, maybe even more.
The fact that Shinkaruk is younger and untested at the NHL level makes him the riskier of the two. After all Granlund can rely on his two-way prowess and to carve out a niche, especially if moved to the wing. While there is no guarantee of Shinkaruk making the NHL.
The risk was one to take however. Giving up a player with a lower ceiling in a position with incredible depth (centre) for a player with higher potential in a position of need (wing) is something you dream of in a trade.
The Calgary Flames needed more skill and size on the wings. While Shinkaruk won’t bring the size, he will bring skill, and lots of it.
Vancouver needed a defence-man desperately, which is somewhat puzzling that they would trade for a player like Granlund. Nonetheless I am sure Granlund will be a decent NHLer for Vancouver.
But Hunter Shinkaruk has lights-out potential, once he gains more size he will be an effective top-six player for Calgary.
The Calgary Flames got the best player out of the deal, and get the better contract status as Shinkaruk is still on his entry level deal for a couple more seasons while Granlund is waiver eligible next year.
Brad Treliving may not have robbed Jim Benning blind like everyone is saying, but he certainly got the better player and filled a team need, while Vancouver didn’t accomplish either of those things, and gave up another promising player.
Chalk another one in the win column for Brad Treliving.
Who do you think won this trade? Let us know in the comment section below