First off, I would like to take time to thank and credit fellow Pucks & Pitchforks writer Frank Maduri for his efforts and assistance in both the selection and this article.
With the 9th overall pick in the 2013 Fansided.com NHL Mock Draft, the New Jersey Devils select Hunter Shinkaruk, right wing, Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League.
Shinkaruk has been a part of the Medicine Hat Tigers squad for the past three seasons. The 5’11″ 175lbs forward from Calgary was named captain for the 2012-13 season. He posted 37 goals and 49 assists for 86 points in 64 games in 2012-13, five points short of his 91 point season (49 goals, 42 assists) a year ago. He has demonstrated the ability to score consistently, which the Devils are in need of.
The New Jersey Devils selection of Hunter Shinkaruk represents the need for the organization to fill the gap in goal scoring, which largely caused the team to miss the playoffs for just the second time in 16 years.
The Devils from a player inventory perspective are thin at right wing. They have more than enough left wing and center ice players, but have a need at the right wing position. With only one prospect, Mike Sislo, at the right wing position the Devils will add this goal scorer to their repertoire. This pick also addresses that organizational need.
This pick addresses that need too because Shinkaruk can play on special teams and should give the Devils a boost during their man-advantage situations. If the Devils had converted just a few more of the power play opportunities they had, they would have won at least two of those close games they were in with teams such as Ottawa, Florida, or Tampa Bay. Those losses were the difference between the Devils making the playoffs instead of packing their bags up on April 28th.
Shinkaruk has been scouted as a aggressive forechecking forward who has the ability to force turnovers, accompanied by quick hands, a great shot and is willing to do anything to score goals for his team. However, he is only 175 pounds, leaving skeptics worried about his durability in the NHL. In order to thrive and survive, it is recommended he bulks up and adds 15-20lbs onto his frame.
This scouting report is eerily similar to former Devils captain Zach Parise, who was scouted as a hard working forechecker, with huge offensive upsides, and leadership qualities, but lacked the size necessary to be successful. Shinkaruk even dons number nine, which was worn by Parise in New Jersey. However, Parise was 6’1″ 185 entering draft day, larger than Shinkaruk.
Overall, the Devils will obtain a very strong offensive threat with the selection of Shinkaruk, as well as address most of the organizational needs moving forward. He and the Devils are a match made in heaven.
With that said, the Devils will need to have patience with Shinkaruk. There is no reason to rush him straight to the NHL roster, instead of rushing him like Adam Larsson. The Devils should give Shinkaruk at least a year or two in the AHL, allowing him time to develop, bulk up, and become the next star in New Jersey.