Jeff Skinner is the guy to drive the Hurricanes offense

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This is part of Hurricanes day at PHT…

It’s a time of transition for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Eric Staal, the long-time face of the franchise, is gone following a trade last season, they are one of the teams in the league that does not yet have a captain named for the upcoming season, while the roster is going to be largely filled with players age 24 or younger.

One of those players is forward Jeff Skinner, who even though he just turned 24 in May, is currently the second longest tenured member of the team behind only starting goalie Cam Ward.

What has been a little weird about Skinner’s time in Carolina in recent years is that for as young as he still is, as good as his contract is (signed for three more years at a market rate), and for his productive as he has been, his name is one that has still been mentioned on more than one occasion in trade rumors. Whether or not the Hurricanes ever seriously explored it is another matter entirely, but the fact his name was even out there was a little eye opening.

This is the type of player you should want to try and build around.

Maybe it’s because he missed some time early in his career due to a concussion, or because he had a down year in 2014-15 and a slow start in 2015, or because he has played for a team that has not had a lot of success in the standings, but Skinner does not really get enough attention for just how productive he has been in his career.

He already has two 30-goal seasons (as well a 28-goal season this past season) on his resume and has scored 143 goals and recorded more than 1,300 shots on goal, all before he celebrated 24th birthday. That is no small accomplishment.

Over the past 20 years here is the entire list of players that have reached those goals and shots numbers before their age 24 season:

Sidney Crosby. Steven Stamkos. Ilya Kovalchuk. Alex Ovechkin.

And Jeff Skinner.

The intention here isn’t to say that Skinner is on the same level as players like Crosby, Stamkos, Ovechkin or Kovalchuk before his return to Russia (because he’s not). It is to simply point out that he has already been an extremely productive player, perhaps better than many realize (30-goal scorers don’t exactly grow on trees these days in the NHL), and has scored like a top-line player.

He is also entering his age 24 season is just now starting to get to the point in his career where goal scorers tend to hit their peak and have their best seasons.

With the older Staal now out of the picture and a young roster starting to take over, somebody else is going to have to emerge as the new face of the franchise and be the go-to-guy. In Skinner, they have a player that has already been a top-line scorer in the league and is now at a point where he might be on the verge of having his best seasons.