After returning Brendan Gaunce to his OHL team and sending Frank Corrado to Utica, the Canucks opening night roster appears to be set and it features Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk, two of the team’s most promising prospects.
Earlier today, Sportsnet’s John Shannon broke the news on Twitter.
Take note London and Medicine Hat…just been told Canucks’ 1st Rd Picks Horvat and Shinkaruk will start the season in the NHL.
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) September 27, 2013
Horvat and Shinkaruk, both 18 years old, were selected in the first round of the 2013 NHL draft with the ninth and twenty fourth picks respectively.
With Zack Kassian serving a 5 game suspension and Jordan Schroeder out with a foot injury, Horvat and Shinkaruk will be penciled in somewhere in the bottom six to start the season. They will have to play well right away if they want to stick with the big club this season. The first year of their entry level contracts won’t kick in until they play their tenth game and they can be returned to their junior teams any time before that.
Shinkaruk’s fate will likely depend on what David Booth can do early on. If Booth returns to his early 2011/12 form and starts to lose that injury prone tag, it will make Shinkaruk’s job a lot tougher. On the other hand, if Booth struggles and/or gets injured, Shinkaruk might remain with the team almost by default. Also, factoring in the trickle down effect that Zack Kassian’s return will have, locking down a roster spot as a winger will be increasingly difficult.
For Horvat, the current lack of depth at centre bodes well for him. Aside from him, the only centres behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler are Mike Santorelli and Brad Richardson, who, at this point, are not exactly mainstays. The Canucks are likely looking at making a move to add more depth but if not, Horvat has a good chance to stay.
What’s really working against Horvat will be playing on the fourth line. Dale Weise and Tom Sestito aren’t exactly offensive players so making an impact in his own zone will be key. Making smart defensive plays, limiting his mistakes, and occasionally chipping in on offense will be crucial to his success. However, if he plays like a rookie early on, he will likely be on his way back to the London Knights.
Regardless of how long they last this season, this is a very good sign for the Canucks as an organization. They are an aging group and like it or not, the current team’s window to win is closing. Getting Horvat and Shinkaruk, as well as their other prospects, significant playing time will bode well for their future growth. Hopefully, they can take advantage of their opportunity.