Just three months ago they were two nervous 18-year-old kids sitting in the stands at the Prudential Center in Newark N.J. wondering when their names would get called at the NHL draft.

On Friday afternoon at Rogers Arena Hunter Shinkaruk and Bo Horvat had other thoughts racing through their heads.

As hard as each is trying not to look too far ahead they can’t help but wonder if they could possibly be in the lineup next Thursday night in San Jose when the Vancouver Canucks open their National Hockey League regular season.

Chances are one of them will be.

Barring a trade or waiver wire pickup there appears to be an open spot -- albeit likely only a temporary one given Zack Kassian’s five-game suspension -- for a forward on opening night. Either Shinkaruk or Horvat figures to get it.

In Friday’s practice Shinkaruk skated on the third line with Mike Santorelli and David Booth. Horvat centered the fourth line with Dale Weise and Tom Sestito. Centre Brad Richardson who was given a maintenance day Friday to deal with body soreness figures to be in the opening night lineup so that likely leaves room for only one of the kids.

Shinkaruk is trying not to think about it.

“I haven’t let my mind go too far that way” he said before smiling and acknowledging that yes he had been dreaming what some would call the Impossible Dream. “This whole time I have just been trying to take it day by day. When I came to the rink today my goal was to have the best practice I could and again try to prove that I can play here because every practice and every time I am on the ice there’s an evaluation going on. So I am trying not to look too far ahead but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t talked to my buddies and my dad about that. It would be pretty cool.”

The thought of playing opening night has crossed Horvat’s mind too.

“You try and not look too far ahead” Horvat said. “It would be a bonus for me to be in the starting lineup on Thursday against the Sharks. . . I just have to keep working hard and hopefully they see something in me and put me in the lineup.”

Head coach John Tortorella isn’t committing to anything at this point. Following Friday’s practice Tortorella praised both Horvat and Shinkaruk but said next week’s opening-night lineup is far from set.