Montreal Canadiens: Hunter Shinkaruk brings more skill but is another hopeful

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 28: Hunter Shinkaruk #49 of the Calgary Flames reacts after a goal by teammate TJ Brodie against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Gila River Arena on March 28, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Shinkaruk had an assist on the goal. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)
GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 28: Hunter Shinkaruk #49 of the Calgary Flames reacts after a goal by teammate TJ Brodie against the Arizona Coyotes during the third period at Gila River Arena on March 28, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. Shinkaruk had an assist on the goal. (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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Montreal Canadiens
CALGARY, AB – APRIL 7: (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

On the Decline

Shinkaruk again couldn’t make the cut to crack an NHL lineup starting the 2016-17 season in the AHL. However, after points in each of his seven games to start the year, the Flames brought him up. He spent most of that with Alex Chiasson and Matt Stajan and had one assist in his seven-game window.

Injuries and consistency in terms of his performance held his skill back despite being Stockton’s top line left-winger for the majority of the season. Shinkaruk finished with 15 goals and 25 assists, 16 fewer points from the year before. The curtain was starting to close on a once highly touted prospect as this past season he would spend the entire campaign in the NHL scoring at a lower rate (0.51 PPG in 17/18 and 0.67 in 16/17).

On the surface, it’s a throwaway trade. But if you think about it, so was Nicolas Deslauriers for Zach Redmon. Not to say Shinkaruk is going to walk right into the Montreal Canadiens lineup and be a top-six forward or anything. He still has a lot to prove, and he’s in a very sensitive area of his career where if he doesn’t, he’ll continue to fall further and further out of the conversation.

There’s proof in how Shinkaruk can perform when he’s pushed. Despite recovering from surgery, he made the effort to put on 15 pounds that summer to address the physical concerns the coaching staff had for him. When the pressure was at its peak in Utica, he had one of the best starts to his AHL career forcing a call-up.

Can he bring that to the Laval Rocket?