NEWARK, N.J. – The Vancouver Canucks hope Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk can make the 2013 NHL draft memorable for more than just the trade of goaltender Cory Schneider.
The Canucks’ first-round picks likely won’t be helping right away, but Horvat and Shinkaruk are players general manager Mike Gillis believes are on the fast track to the NHL.
“I think they’re really highly skilled players and they bring a lot to the table,” Gillis said. “We’re very enthused about both of them.”
Vancouver took Horvat, a centre for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, with the No. 9 pick they got from the New Jersey Devils for Schneider. He didn’t expect his name to be called not long after commissioner Gary Bettman announced the deal.
“I think I’m more excited than anything to hear that I’ve been part of that trade and to be part of the organization now, it’s an unbelievable feeling,” Horvat said.
Horvat said he doesn’t feel any pressure being the player the Canucks acquired from trading Schneider.
“I think it’s more exciting than anything,” he said. “I can’t wait to get there and show them that I can be that guy that they picked me at 9 (for).”
Shinkaruk, ranked fifth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, fell all the way to pick No. 24 before the Canucks took him. Gillis said the Medicine Hat Tigers forward has “huge upside.”
Shinkaruk said this experience was similar to when he slipped to 14th in his bantam draft and wanted to show the teams that passed on him that they were wrong. He was somewhat surprised to still be sitting in his seat more than halfway through the first round.
“I had an expectation to go in the first round, obviously, but I wasn’t too sure,” Shinkaruk said. “I thought maybe I would go a little bit higher, but at the end of the day, to go in the first round is unbelievable, and that’s what my family kept telling me.”
Horvat and Shinkaruk share the same agency and have been friends for the past couple of years. How soon they might be teammates is “Vancouver’s call,” Shinkaruk said.
“I think I’m the player who has the ability to step in right away,” he said. “There’s things in my game that I need to work on—get a little bit stronger—but I’m going to commit to doing that this summer, and when I get to camp I want to have a good camp and see what happens.”
Gillis indicated Horvat and Shinkaruk could make impacts sooner rather than later.
“They’re both 200-foot players, play in every situation,” he said. “Hunter is a more offensive player, a more dynamic player, a really fast skater. So we got two complementary players in the first round.”