Carolina Hurricanes v Ottawa Senators

Should he stay or go? Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner

As six NHL rookies near the nine game cut-off point from “burning” a year off their entry-level contracts, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of keeping each one at the NHL level vs. moving them down to the AHL. Sometimes the decision will already be made and we’ll just be sharing our two cents while in other instances the moves will come down to a near-coin toss. Either way, we hope you’re entertained and would love to hear your thoughts.

Next up: Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner

The basics

  • Skinner was the seventh pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
  • He’s not tiny but he’s not big either; Skinner is listed at 5’10” and 187 lbs.
  • Skinner will play in his ninth game on Friday against the New York Rangers.
  • Stats: one goal and three assists for four points and a +1 rating in eight games.
  • His junior rights belong to the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL

Useless fact

Skinner was the child of two lawyers, which bursts my bubble of every Canadian hockey player growing up on an obscure, ice-covered farm.

James’ take

I imagine that most of the time, I’ll be in favor of sending players to the minors or juniors. Skinner is one of the exceptions, though, for a couple reasons.

For one, he’s getting semi-decent playing time, averaging a respectable 15 minutes per game. The Hurricanes seem to be fairly impressed with his work so far, as well.

Being obnoxiously cap-obsessed, I had to check the Hurricanes’ salary cap situation once Skinner’s deal would expire if he stayed up. The only two contracts that extend past that period are those of Eric Staal and Cam Ward, so they don’t have many other commitments.

James’ verdict: If he can get solid playing time, then I’d say keep him up.

Joe’s take: Skinner’s been good. He’s looked outstanding at times, like the games in Finland, and he’s a slick puck mover through the zone with a knack for getting around the net. These are things you don’t see out of rookies who are struggling to find their way at a new level. Playing time-wise he’s seeing about the same amount of minutes as established top liners Tuomo Ruutu and Erik Cole so he’s getting as much opportunity to produce as anyone else in Carolina and he’s done all right with his goal and three assists to this point. He’s plugged in well and provided some offensive touch to a team that could use it.

It seems clear to me that his emergence last year in Kitchener was no fluke and he’s meant to be in the NHL.

Joe’s verdict: He stays in the NHL and makes an honest run at the Calder Trophy.

Larkin will start season with Red Wings

Dylan Larkin
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Dylan Larkin — despite being just 19 years old — will begin the season on the Detroit Red Wings, a team not normally accustomed to having teenagers in the lineup.

Coach Jeff Blashill confirmed the news this morning. Larkin could apparently start on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

Larkin, the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, had three goals and one assist in five preseason games. A natural center, he’s shown the potential to one day step into the kind of “big-time” role that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have played for so long in Detroit.

“You have to give our scouts credit,” former coach Mike Babcock told ESPN in May. “We got a great pick where we picked. How high end is he? How soon?”

Related: Coaching change ‘one of the reasons’ Larkin signed with Wings

Preseason stats: Five goalies with good numbers, five goalies with…not

Anders Nilsson
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Yeah, yeah, it’s a small sample size and it’s just the preseason, but here are some goaltending stats anyway.

Five goalies with good numbers

Anders Nilsson, Edmonton — zero goals on 53 shots. His solid play a likely factor in the decision to waive Ben Scrivens, who actually wasn’t that bad in the preseason (4 goals on 56 shots).

Martin Jones, San Jose — three goals on 100 shots. The Sharks are rolling the dice on a couple of cheap goalies. Jones and Alex Stalock have a combined cap hit of just $4.6 million.

Jacob Markstom, Vancouver — three goals on 79 shots. Can he finally get over the NHL hump? If so, he could make it a real competition with Ryan Miller.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus — five goals on 122 shots. The Blue Jackets have scored a ton of goals in the preseason, but there remain questions about their blue line. Bobrovsky has the ability to make a so-so defense look good.

Anton Khudobin, Anaheim — two goals on 67 shots. A good early sign for the Ducks, who have Frederik Andersen in the starting role and want to give young John Gibson more time to develop in the AHL.

Five goalies with bad numbers

Thomas Greiss, Islanders — 14 goals on 94 shots. Has to be a bit of concern in Brooklyn. The Isles got below-average backup play last season from Chad Johnson. They wanted to fix that with the Greiss signing.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo — 11 goals on 95 shots. Tim Murray paid a hefty price to get the 24-year-old out of Ottawa. With the aforementioned Johnson in the backup role, the goaltending story is worth watching.

Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh — 11 goals on 74 shots. Granted, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Murray weren’t particularly sharp either. The Penguins conceded 28 goals in eight games.

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas — 15 goals on 84 shots. For a Stars team that desperately needs better goaltending, that has to be worrying. Antti Niemi wasn’t a whole lot better either, allowing eight goals on 65 shots. Fair question to ask — how many of all those goals were attributable to poor defensive play?

Pekka Rinne, Nashville — 12 goals on 91 shots. Has earned the benefit of the doubt, but thought we’d point it out anyway.