27 December 2019
The Dragons have a new recruit. Forward Hunter Shinkaruk was a first-round draft pick for the Canucks back in 2013 and now he’s heading to China with a point to prove.
The 25-year-old was a huge star in junior hockey: in the WHL he posted 91 points then 86 in successive seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers. Along the way, he picked up a World U18 bronze with Canada in 2012 to cement his status as a rising star. There was a solid season with the Utica Comets, helping the team go deep into the AHL playoffs after he joined up with the Canucks organization and, of course, that long-awaited NHL debut in 2015/16.
Then came the blip. A trade to his hometown Calgary Flames brought Hunter his first NHL goals but no settled spot on the team. A move to Montreal ended in a similar story – but this is a player determined to bounce back from adversity.
Hunter’s mental strength shines through in an interview he gave on joining the Habs last summer. “I had to get my confidence back that I had when I was in Junior,” he said. “Knowing when I went out on the ice I could be the best player on any night.”
Or: “I know I can score. No matter what role it is, I’m going to play it to the best of my ability. I’m a good skater. I’m creative. I love to put the puck in the net. I think I have that ability and I’m competitive. Every time there’s a battle, I want to win it. I think fans can expect all of those things from me.”
Noted throughout his career as a player with a great attitude and appetite for the game, his first engagement outside of North America promises just the kind of battle Shinkaruk loves: a race for a playoff place on a team steadily picking up form. For the player, this is a chance make a name for himself outside of the AHL and remind the big leagues what he’s all about. For the team, he’s a valuable reinforcement in the wake of the injuries that have hampered our offense in recent weeks. For both parties, the potential upside is huge.
Welcome to the Dragons’ Lair, Hunter Shinkaruk!