In less than two weeks, the 2013 NHL Entry Draft will happen at The Rock in Newark, New Jersey. In preparation, the every team blog on the SBN network has participated in a mock draft of the first round. Today, I can reveal that we have selected with the ninth overall pick, Medicine Hat winger Hunter Shinkaruk for the New Jersey Devils.
The name should sound familiar as I've put together a profile of the prospect over a month ago. The summary of that profile was that Shinkaruk has demonstrated the skills and production usually associated with an offensive prospect. Those who have seen him play rave about his hands, his hockey sense, his good skating, and his general work ethic. Shinkaruk has really grown at Medicine Hat, as he was named captain of the team by his third season with the organization. This past season was particularly notable as he showed that he can produce very well without Emerson Etem, who he played a lot with in 2011-12. In fact, you can see that in this recently uploaded highlight video of his 2012-13 season. It's about five and a half minutes of goals (1:23 is particularly brilliant) and plays made by Medicine Hat's #9:
It's not all glitter and gold with Shinkaruk. He's not a particularly young prospect, he's not a big player at 5'11" and 175 pounds, and his defense could use some work. While he can't change his birthdate, it is possible for him to get stronger and to work on his positioning and decision making without the puck. In the profile, some observers noted that he has improved with respect to the latter so there's reason to believe further improvement is possible. If the latter happens, he gets stronger, and the offensive aspects of his game do translate to the pro game, then he could be a very good forward one day.
But don't just take my profile for it. Other profiles about the player around the network have similar takes on the player such as Dan P's profile at The Cannon and Hue Wales' post at Defending Big D. Scott Reynolds had a more sobering opinion in this post at Copper & Blue where he identified statistical comparables for Shinkaruk. It's not so much stating that he won't turn out to be good, several of the similar players in junior turned out to have successful careers in the NHL. It's just that he may not be a total stud. I don't know about you, but I'll be pleased if he turns out to be a top-six winger even if he does need help from his teammates.
Selecting Shinkaruk in the 2013 SBN NHL Mock Draft wasn't too difficult. After all, the Devils have a dearth of offensive prospects in the system. They don't really have a forward with a high ceiling coming down the pipeline unless you really, really, really think highly of Reid Boucher or Stefan Matteau. Shinkaruk would definitely fill that need. Even if he turns out to be an offense-first winger Moreover, in my eyes at least, I like his future value more than the prospects selected after him for New Jersey. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out who they were and when they were taken. I will say that if any of the six forwards taken ahead of Shinkaruk are available at #9, then I would prefer the Devils to take them instead. But if they are not available, then I would take Hunter Shinkaruk.
Now that you know who we picked in the SBN Mock Draft and why, I'd like to read your take on it. If you were in our position, would you have taken Shinkaruk at #9 overall? If not, who would you have taken and why? Would you be pleased if the Devils selected him in the actual draft on June 30? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Shinkaruk and our mock draft pick in the comments. Thank you for reading.