Sunday, February 9, 2020

Hunter Shinkaruk Autograph Card

Hunter Shinkaruk is still just 24 years old, so not only is it a bit early to call him a first-round bust - he was the Vancouver Canucks' selection at the 2013 draft, 24th overall - but he remains halfway through playing all of the Canadian NHL teams, having also spent time with the Calgary Flames and the Montréal Canadiens' AHL affilitae Laval Rocket.

This year, he was released by the Charlotte Checkers after a 20-game stint (4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points, 4 penalty minutes and a -1 rating, so really not much to show for it) and he's since signed on with the KHL's Kunlun Red Star, a team that stands sixth in its division with a 25-25-3-4 record (57 points in 57 games, 131 goals for, 149 goals against) despite dressing a bunch of former top NHL prospects like Brandon Yip, Adam Cracknell, Spencer Foo, Gilbert Brulé, Devante Smith-Pelly, Andrej Sustr, Wojtek Wolski, and Griffin Reinhart, as well as famous sons Jake Chelios and David Bondra.

Here's hoping he finds the inner strength and an agent with jedi-level convincing powers so he can also suit up for the Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs in the next decade. Posterity demands it.

As a player, he has blazing speed - think NHL-elite-level speed - and isn't afraid to park himself in front of the opposition's net despite being just 5'11" and 190 pounds, like a somewhat taller Brendan Gallagher... except the finishing touch he demonstrated when he scored 49 and 37 goals in 60-some games with the Medecine Hat Tigers in Juniors has yet to translate to the pro game. The only time he reached the 20-goal mark was in 2015-16, where he had 21 in 45 games with the Utica Comets, 0 in 1 game with the Canucks, 6 in 17 games with the Stockton Heat and 2 in 7 games with the Calgary Flames.

It's like he never got over being traded the first time and has since wallowed in the middle- or bottom-six of minor leagues, unable to find a prominent role even on sub-par teams.

Here's hoping he puts all the ingredients together in the next couple of years and bounces back enough to ensure he has a future in the game...

In the meantime, this is what he looked like in the Canucks' white (away) uniform, on card #RR-25 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Contours set and Rookie Resume sub-set:
It features a blue-sharpied on-sticker signature. His #48 slots him perfectly in my Canucks Numbers Project.

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