When the Vancouver Canucks traded prospect Hunter Shinkaruk to the Calgary Flames for Markus Granlund, most fans were not exactly pleased.
The Vancouver Canucks do not have the deepest prospect pool. That’s alright, considering that they have guys like Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann and Ben Hutton in their NHL lineup already. Still, trading one of the club’s most promising prospects in forward Hunter Shinkaruk was an odd move.
I would like you to go back in your memory and recall what your thoughts were when you first heard about the trade. Mine? Here is the first sentence of my news release hours after the trade:
"WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?! With that out of the way, WHYYYYYYYYYY?!"
You know, I wasn’t exactly happy. And from what I’ve heard and read, most people felt the same way.
Why would the Canucks get rid of Shinkaruk? A 25-goal scorer in his second American Hockey League season, Shinkaruk shows a lot of promise and, according to Canucks general manager Jim Benning, he was supposed to improve his game down in Utica so that he gets ready for next season in Vancouver — which would have made perfect sense.
But, that will obviously never happen. Instead, we might get to see a tremendous line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and our very own Hunter Shinkaruk a few years down the road in Calgary. It could happen.
Now, the trade was obviously not all bad. According to multiple insiders, scouts think Shinkaruk’s NHL chances are roughly fifty-fifty. It’s a coin toss.
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Since Shinkaruk is not the biggest guy at 5-foot-11 and also not exactly famous for his defensive game, he certainly does not project as a bottom-six player. For him, it is top-six or minor leagues.
You’re right, he totally stole Horvat’s spot — he must be good, right?
The thing is, and Benning also mentioned that, Granlund is simply an NHL-ready forward. He might never become more than a bottom-six player, but he will certainly be in the NHL.
That puts him one step ahead of Shinkaruk for now, but Shinkaruk might run right past him sooner or later and be an elite scorer in the NHL.
Granlund certainly looks like a decent player. He is a serviceable forward who has a lot of talent but needs to develop every aspect of his game before we can really judge him. For now, he looks like he might not become more than a third-line player.
In other words: even if Shinkaruk becomes a top-six forward for the Flames one day while Granlund is stuck in the bottom-six, the trade will not have hurt the Canucks.
HFBoards user RobertKron had an interesting analogy for the situation:
"Let’s say I walk in my friend’s house, produce a fork from my pocket, and stick it in the first electrical outlet I see. Somehow, it turns out that this is the socket that is hooked to the one breaker that my friend keeps switched off for good luck. I didn’t know this, but I wasn’t electrocuted. Now I’m saying “man, I didn’t get shocked – putting that fork in that outlet wasn’t a bad idea at all!” I’m obviously wrong. Even though it didn’t end up putting me in a bad situation, my actions were still a bad move. A bad move doesn’t have to produce a bad outcome.Now this is obviously hyperbole, but considering that Granlund covers pretty much the single area of strong depth in the Canucks’ system (…), he’d have to develop into something better than what he looks like he’ll be, based on some hunch of Benning’s, for it to be a good trade. Otherwise, they still moved a piece to get something they didn’t even need to get, and did it to the detriment of their farm team’s playoff push."
As silly as the analogy may seem, he’s certainly got a point (or two or three).
- The Canucks did not need to make the trade since centre is their biggest area of depth
- Trading Shinkaruk hurt the Comets’ playoff push
- A bad decision does not always lead to a bad outcome
First of all, the Canucks have Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter, Bo Horvat, Jared McCann and Linden Vey at centre. Even if they get rid of Vey, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, they would have four centres plus Granlund. So, Granlund was not really needed — Vancouver gave up one of their most promising prospect for a player they don’t really need.
Furthermore, Shinkaruk was one of the Utica Comets’ best players, if not the single best player. Even after leaving the club, his 21 goals and 39 points lead the club in both categories. Losing a guy like that for no apparent reason really sucks for Utica.
Last but not least, a bad decision does no always need to hurt the team. The Canucks got a good player for someone who was not in the NHL. Even in the hypothetical scenario that Shinkaruk becomes the NHL’s best scorer of all time, it will only help the Calgary Flames, not hurt the Vancouver Canucks.
In the end, it all depends on what kind of person you are. Do you rather play it safe or do you prefer to have a chance to get something great?
All we know for now is: Benning wanted to play it safe — and it will not hurt the club. With a little lot of luck, Granlund could even become more than a third liner.