"He's going to have hip surgery on Jan. 7, and he'll be expected to rehabilitate for four to six months beyond that," Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said Friday in an interview.
Shinkaruk's minimum recovery time gives him a chance to return in mid-May for the Memorial Cup tournament, if his Medicine Hat Tigers qualify by winning the WHL championship. But the odds of him coming back quickly appear long, given that hip problems usually rank among the most serious and require extended rehabilitation periods.
Shinkaruk was chosen 24th overall in this year's NHL draft and was among Vancouver's last pre-season cuts. The Medicine Hat captain was invited to Team Canada's selection camp for the world junior hockey championships, but was released for the second straight year after travelling to Sweden with the club before the tournament started.
"He's got a slightly torn labrum," said Gillis. "But it doesn't matter if it's slightly or more torn. He suffered it early on in the season, tried to play through it and wanted to have an opportunity to make the world junior team. Clearly, his play dropped off fairly considerably after the injury.
"He gave it his best effort and the plan all along was that this (decision to have surgery) was going to happen regardless, so it happened a little bit earlier."
Gillis said the injury contributed to Shinkaruk, a 19-year-old Calgary native, not having the best opportunity to make Team Canada.
The surgery will be performed in Vail, Colo., by Dr. Marc Phillipon, who specializes in repairing hip disorders.
Shinkaruk was among two first-round choices selected by Vancouver this year. The Canucks took London Knights centre Bo Horvat with the ninth pick, which they acquired in a draft-day trade from New Jersey for goaltender Cory Schneider. Gillis expects Shinkaruk to be healthy in time for Vancouver's training camp in the fall.
"We think he'll make a fully recovery and that he'll be fully cleared to try and make the hockey club in September," said Gillis.
Shinkaruk has recorded five goals and 11 assists for 16 points with the Tigers this season.
His junior team is also optimistic that he will bounce back from the ordeal.
"We wish Hunter all the best for a successful surgery and a full recovery," said Medicine Hat general manager and coach Shaun Clouston in a release.