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