NEW YORK, NY–The 2013 NHL Entry Draft is less than two weeks away, and for the first time in his tenure, Garth Snow has a non-lottery first round draft choice with which to finagle.
Thus, this year’s draft brings a bit of a different feel for the New York Islanders and their fans, though, as 2013 marks the first time that the Islanders are not slated to select in the top-5 since 2007.
The Islanders are slotted to pick 15th on June 30th, Draft Day, the first time the Islanders will be selecting outside of the top ten since they drafted Ryan O’Marra 15th-overall in 2005.
And this year’s draft class runs deep, so the Islanders should have a surplus of highly touted prospects to choose from when it’s their turn to add to the organization’s already deep prospect pool.
Today, Eyes on Isles continues its “Picking Prospects” series, on the prowl for the undersized, but talented, Hunter Shinkaruk.
- Hunter Shinkaruk, LW/C, Medicine Hat Tigers, WHL
64 GP. 37 G, 49 A, 86 Pts
Naturally undersized, but extremely shifty, Hunter Shinkaruk has grown into a dangerous player in the offensive zone. Far improved from his 14-goal rookie campaign in the WHL, Hunter has developed his killer instinct around the net, scoring 47 goals and 37 goals, respectively, in his last two seasons of junior hockey.
His creativity and coordination, combined with his savvy skating, makes him a nightmare for opposing defenses. Hunter’s wide skating stance makes it difficult for defensemen to predict Hunter’s direction, which can change on a dime.
According to Mike Morreale of NHL.com, Shinkaruk is,
"skilled, smart, deceptive and explosive with hands as quick as anyone eligible in the 2013 NHL Draft."
NHL Central Scoutng’s Peter Sullivan says Shinkaruk
"has the most potential of any projected first-round prospect."
There is no denying it. Shinkaruk could be the next elite offensive talent.
The 6th-ranked North American skater does not come worry-free, though. Although there is no denying his talent, Shinkaruk’s physical game remains an issue for many teams. Shinkaruk’s frame (5’11, 175 lbs) may turn off a few teams. Obviously, that’s nothing that some proper conditioning can’t fix, but Shinkaruk has some work to do before he’s physically ready to take on the NHL.
- What Makes Shinkaruk a Fit on Long Island?
The term versatility is key when assessing Hunter Shinkaruk. The offensively-gifted forward has demonstrated his ability and willingness to flex into any offensive role, including Center and Left Winger.
The Islanders have been forced to tweak their lines over the past several seasons under Jack Capuano.
Josh Bailey’s conversion to winger would be the best and most current example, although Ryan Strome is also expected to be a winger, the position he has been playing next to Brock Nelson in Bridgeport. Nelson and Casey Cizikas, also natural centers, have seen time on the wing for the Islanders in 2013. The addition of Hunter Shinkaruk would give the Islanders some natural flexibility when trying to determine key fits across their four forward lines.
One more key: Shinkaruk was captain of the Medicine Hat Tigers last season. Garth Snow loves to see character in his prospects, and Shinkaruk may provide the leadership intangibles that Garth covets.
If the Islanders want Hunter Shinkaruk at #15, though, they will have to hope for Hunter to fall a bit further then his usual top-10 projection.