Remember those rumors before the 2014 NHL Draft saying the Vancouver Canucks were dangling 2013 first-round pick Hunter Shinkaruk in potential trades? Canucks GM Jim Benning would like to know where they came from.
The new Canucks general manager was left scratching his head about the talk he was trying to deal the team’s later first-round pick from last year (Bo Horvat being the other) as our friend Cam Tucker at Metro West shared.
“I don’t know where that came from. We were never actively looking to trade Hunter Shinkaruk. This stuff gets started out there,” said Benning. “That’s not true.”
Shinkaruk was the 24th overall selection in the 2013 draft and one of a handful of prospects in the Vancouver system the organization has high hopes for.
Adding to the potential silliness of the rumors, Shinkaruk had a hip injury that shortened season with Medicine Hat in the WHL. Dealing off a kid who you’re not even totally sure of what he’s got to offer wouldn’t make a lot of sense.
Vancouver has now officially sent both of its 2013 first-round draft picks back to their respective junior clubs, returning Hunter Shinkaruk to WHL Medicine Hat on Monday — one day after dispatching Bo Horvat to OHL London.
Horvat, the ninth overall selection (acquired in the Cory Schneider trade) was the more ballyhooed prospect heading into training camp, but it was Shinkaruk (24th overall) that lasted longer and arguably made the bigger impression.
Head coach John Tortorella said he really liked Shinkaruk’s camp, adding the 18-year-old was “trying like hell” to make the team.
The moves mean none of Vancouver’s last four first-round picks — Horvat, Shinkaruk, Nicklas Jensen and Brendan Gaunce — are still with the team. It’s unclear what Vancouver plans to do with Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh (acquired yesterday from Carolina) or Ryan Stanton, claimed off waivers from Chicago on Monday morning.
Related: Hurricanes and Canucks swap prospects and a pick
One of Vancouver’s two first-round picks from the 2013 draft will be sticking with the team, but it may not be the one you’re expecting.
The London Knights announced that ninth overall section Bo Horvat was re-assigned to their team by the Canucks. Horvat was not at today’s practice in Vancouver leading to speculation he was headed back. 26th overall pick Hunter Shinkaruk will be sticking around.
While the two players were both thought to be staying in Vancouver as recently as yesterday, plans may have changed for the Canucks after acquiring Zac Dalpe from the Carolina Hurricanes late last night.
According to Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun, Canucks GM Mike Gillis views Dalpe as a guy who can play at center, the same position Horvat plays. Shinkaruk, meanwhile, will at least get a nine-game peek to see what he can do. As a winger, there’s more flexibility to fit him into the lineup.
Canucks fans don’t have to wonder anymore about which of their 2013 first-round picks will start the year with the team.
John Shannon of Sportsnet reports both Bo Horvat (9th overall) and Hunter Shinkaruk (24th overall) will start the season in Vancouver with the big club.
Both players have seen a lot of action so far in the preseason and both have shown they’ve got enough game to stay with some of the NHLers, but whether they’ll stick around for more than nine games before being sent back to juniors is another question.
Vancouver is currently dealing with injuries and suspensions at forward with Jordan Schroeder out with a hairline fracture in his foot and Zack Kassian suspended for the first five games of the season for high-sticking Edmonton’s Sam Gagner. David Booth has returned from his ankle issue but he’s working off the rust of being out of action for so long.
It may just be a short stay for the Canucks’ prized picks, but they’ve shown so far they’ve got the skills to earn a further look from coach John Tortorella.
David Booth’s rehab from an ankle injury has been a tough and frustrating one, but the 28-year-old Canucks winger took a step forward this morning in Vancouver when he practiced with teammates (he skated with Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows) for the first time this preseason.
“It was quite the feeling,” said Booth, per the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap. “I mean, it’s been a while since I skated with them.”
He added: “I think my goal all along was to be ready for the regular season.”
If, however, Booth’s absence extends beyond the start of the regular season (Oct. 3, for Vancouver), the Canucks have a couple of kids who could possibly see time on the second line until he gets back. Hunter Shinkaruk is one candidate, as is Nicklas Jensen.
A former 31-goal-scorer in Florida, Booth has two years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $4.25 million. In 68 games with Vancouver, he has 17 goals and 15 assists — not terrible production, but the Canucks would love to get more from him.
“He killed us in Florida when I was in Tampa,” said head coach John Tortorella, per The Province. “He can be an asset in how we want to play on the puck. He could be a really good player, but the question is health and it’s out of my control. If he can stay healthy, it slots people in different spots. We get a good player like that in the lineup and it really helps us.”
Related: Luongo to start tonight in Vancouver