SHINKARUK STARTING TO HIT STRIDE

Oct 02, 2012 - 03:47 MDT

Hunter Shinkaruk sure knows how to make an entrance.


The five-foot-10 forward, who turns 18 this month and has been likened in media reports to Patrick Kane, was named Western Hockey League player of the week just in time for the Medicine Hat Tigers' lone visit of the season Wednesday night to Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.


The native of Calgary had a goal and five assists in two Tigers wins last week and will certainly stress the Victoria Royals' young defence.


Shinkaruk was selected to represent Canada in the Ivan Hlinka U-18 tournament last spring and the Canada-Russia junior challenge over the summer.


Watch for him to surpass his 49 goals and 91 points from last season with the Tigers. As one of only seven WHL players given a preliminary 'A' rating by Central Scouting for the 2013 NHL draft, expect his name to pop up early on draft day next summer.


MINOR MATTERS: WHL alumni in the pros are waiting to see how the NHL lockout shakes down through the minor-pro ranks as American Hockey League camps have opened.


The impact to WHL teams could be the 19-and 20-year-olds who may have otherwise stuck in the pros but who may yet be sent back to junior hockey. The Kamloops Blazers, who were just in Victoria over the weekend, have one such player in Austin Madaisky.


The 20-year-old defenceman from Surrey is in the Springfield Falcons' training camp, which began on the weekend, but because of the influx of young NHLers to the NHL, the Blazers feel they may get Madaisky back in a few weeks.


And the lockout movement has already begun. If WHL Western Conference opponents thought they had thankfully seen the last of 2012 NHL No. 2 overall draft pick Ryan Murray in an Everertt Silvertips jersey, guess again.


ALUMNI MATTERS: The task for WHL alumni, looking to move up from the ECHL to the AHL, also just got harder this fall because of the influx of young NHL players who will be playing in the AHL until the lockout is settled.


An example of those potentially affected is forward Garry Nunn of Victoria, WHL graduate of the Vancouver Giants and Edmonton Oil Kings. In his third season as a pro, Nunn was invited to Abbotsford's AHL camp after two seasons with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL. But the Abby camp got just that much tougher because of the NHL lockout.


The kind of player who will be squeezing junior-age AHLers back to the WHL, and older WHL alumni to the ECHL, is Tyson Barrie of Victoria. The former WHL defenceman of the year with the Kelowna Rockets looked to be on the cusp of the NHL this season with the Colorado Avalanche. But the lockout has sent Barrie back to the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL.


cdheensaw@timescolonist.com