Roughly a week after Team Canada cut him, Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hunter Shinkaruk announced he's set to undergo surgery on his hip in early January.
According to Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province, Shinkaruk injured his hip on the sixth game of the year, but kept it quiet in bid to make the world juniors. This is a true testament to the Vancouver Canucks first-round pick's character, dedication to the game and love for his country. Unfortunately for Shinkaruk, he won't get a second crack at representing Canada at the world juniors next year because of his late-1994 birthdate.
Shinkaruk's hip problem isn't news to the Canucks. They've known about his health issues all along this season.
Gilman said the team has no concern over the lingering injuries that have hampered Shinkaruk this season.
“No, we brought him in last month, we got him assessed by our doctors and he has seen doctors in his hometown in Calgary,” Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman said to the Vancouver Sun. “We feel we have a handle on what has occurred with him and he will recover fully.”
Injuries have been a part of Shinkaruk's life for a while. Last year as an 18-year-old in his third season in the WHL, he fought through nagging injuries, despite only missing eight regular-season games. It appears his health issues were a big reason why the 19-year-old Calgary native - whom some scouts ranked as a top-10 pick - dropped to the Canucks at the 24th spot in the 2013 draft.
This year, Shinkaruk's health problems have been evident in his statistics. He couldn't muster a a point-per-game pace, five goals and 16 points in 18 games, following scoring well over that rate in his previous two seasons.
Under different circumstances, it seems Shinkaruk would have been a lock to crack Canada's world junior team. He showed as a 17-year-old in 2011-12 where he scored 49 goals and 91 points in 66 games that he possess elite offensive talent and incredible work ethic. In addition, he has leadership characteristics as he was named the Tigers' team captain last year.
It would be naive to assume Team Canada head coach Brent Sutter didn't know about Shinkaruk's injury woes prior to inviting him to the tryout camp. He saw Shinkaruk play firsthand as he also coaches the Red Deer Rebels, a rival of the Tigers, and a simple phone call to Medicine Hat coach Shaun Clouston would have affirmed any speculation. It, however, seems Hockey Canada didn't know the extent of his hip injury based on Shinkaruk's comments of trying to keep it quiet.
There isn't an exact timetable on Shinkaruk's return to the ice. But based on an average hip surgery taking four-six months to recover, it seems quite unlikely that he will return to Medicine Hat this year. Therefore, it appears the 5-foot-11, 179-pounder has played his last game in a Tigers uniform because all indications are that he'll make the jump to the pros next year as he will be AHL eligible.
As for the Tigers, who sit in fourth spot in the Eastern Conference, the loss of Shinkaruk is a huge blow to their season even though his injury trouble has clearly held him back. They not only lost one of their top scorers, but also a valuable leader in the room.
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen