The Vancouver Canucks had two picks in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in June. It looks like they chose wisely as Bo Horvat, who was selected with the ninth overall pick Vancouver received in exchange for Cory Schneider, and Hunter Shinkaruk, the No. 24 pick, will both start the season with the Canucks, according to Sportsnet's John Shannon.
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
Whether Shinkaruk and Horvat stick for longer than the nine games before activating the first year of their entry-level contracts remains to be seen. An injury to Jordan Schroeder and Zack Kassian's five-game suspension likely cleared the way for these two to get into the lineup.
Regardless of circumstance, the fact that Vancouver's top picks in this last draft will make the opening-night roster is a positive thing for the organization. Both Horvat and Shinkaruk are gifted forwards that likely have a lot of good hockey ahead of them, but neither were considered strong candidates to start the year in the NHL with Vancouver's relative depth at forward.
John Tortorella is known for being extra cautious with a team's young talent, which is why Rangers rookies like Chris Kreider and J.T. Miller spent more time in the AHL than with the big club last year. However, with a nine-game cushion to see what Shinkaruk and Horvat have at the NHL level, he can get a better read on his young charges.
If after those nine games both look like they need more time, both would have to be sent back to their respective junior clubs, per the collective bargaining agreement. The AHL is not an option for either.
In all likelihood, both will finish the year in junior -- Horvat with the London Knights and Shinkaruk with the Medicine Hat Tigers -- though stranger things have happened. Either way, it's a big credit to Vancouver's scouting staff for making the most of their first two picks last year. Time will tell just how good these guys will be in the long-term, but the early returns are certainly encouraging.