Yesterday we looked at 2010 first round pick Erik Gudbranson’s chances of cracking the Florida Panthers lineup and today the focus turns to another team in the Southeast Division and their top pick from 2010. Carolina’s Jeff Skinner has been doing his best to show his skills in the Traverse City Tournament, but Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told Canes Now’s Chip Alexander that he believes Skinner could crack the Canes’ NHL roster this year.
“The roster spot is there for him,” Rutherford said. “He has to compete with several other players, but the way he’s trained this summer, and with his strength and conditioning work with Gary Roberts, he’s very advanced for his age from a strength and conditioning standpoint.
“Everyone knows his skill level. It’s a matter of how well he adapts to the tempo of training camp and the games, and it is quite a change from junior hockey. But he’s put up a lot of points (in junior) and certainly has a lot of things going for him.”
Skinner was a fast-riser in the 2010 draft and landing with Carolina at the seventh overall selection shows what the Canes thought of his skill set. There’s no doubt that there’s potential to crack the Hurricanes lineup. After Eric Staal and Brandon Sutter, there’s room for improvising and competition at the center position with Zach Boychuk and other young players.
The fact that Skinner has been doing his conditioning work with Gary Roberts is startling though as Roberts’ workouts are the things of legend in their intensity. An 18 year-old kid going through with that in an effort to be ready for the season is remarkable. If Skinner is the real deal, he’d be a huge boost to a Canes offense that could struggle not having Ray Whitney who departed as a free agent.
(Photo: Bruce Bennett – Getty Images)
“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.
The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).
The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.
Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:
The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”
Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.