Skinner to make return tonight versus Jets

Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner will make his season debut tonight in Winnipeg after missing four games with a concussion.

Carolina is the only team in the league that’s yet to win a game.

“I hope that I can help the guys get it done,” Skinner said, per “For me coming back, I’m just going to try to keep it simple. I think that as a team we’ve been getting better. Just keep building on the good things in our game and hopefully I can add to that. It’s a big game because it could be the start of a big road trip for us.”

The ‘Canes have actually managed to take their last two games to the shootout, losing to the Sabres and Rangers. And in addition to Skinner, they’ll also get Andrej Sekera back after the d-man crashed hard into the boards versus the Sabres and missed the Rangers game.

Carolina will still be without injured players Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Patrick Dwyer, and John-Michael Liles.

The ‘Canes’ opponents, the Jets, are also desperate for a win tonight, after four straight losses has put them in an early hole.


‘Canes activate Skinner from IR

The Carolina Hurricanes finally caught a break in the health department on Friday, as forward Jeff Skinner was activated off IR and should be available for Tuesday’s game in Winnipeg.

To clear room for Skinner, the ‘Canes sent forwards Brody Sutter and Patrick Brown to AHL Charlotte.

Skinner missed Carolina’s first four games of the season with a concussion suffered during the exhibition campaign, when he was hit by ‘Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen on Oct. 5. It marked the third concussion Skinner, 22, has suffered during his brief NHL career; the former Calder Trophy winner missed 16 games during the 2011-12 campaign and additional time during the lockout-shortened ’13 season with concussion and post-concussion syndrome.



Trade target Sekera (upper body) out vs. Rangers; ‘large number’ of teams keeping watch

Andrej Sekera will miss Thursday night’s game against New York with an upper-body injury suffered earlier this week, but that likely won’t keep teams from inquiring about his services.

Per Sportsnet, a “large number” of clubs are interested in the 28-year-old defenseman, who’s coming off a career-high 11 goals and 44 points last season.

“While Hurricanes captain Eric Staal has been more prominently mentioned in trade rumors, teams around the league believe Sekera is the more likely player to be moved,” Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston explained. “He’s a pending unrestricted free agent coming off a 44-point season, and would be a good fit in a number of cities across the league.”

Sekera isn’t the only prominent Hurricane that’ll miss tonight’s game. Eric Staal, Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner are also out, along with checking forward Patrick Dwyer, who was placed on injured reserve yesterday.

Banged-up ‘Canes recall Sutter from AHL Charlotte

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Down the services of Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Patrick Dwyer and (possibly) Jeff Skinner, the Carolina Hurricanes called on some enforcements Wednesday, bringing up Brody Sutter from AHL Charlotte.

Sutter, 23, was Carolina’s seventh-round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft and, as the last name suggests, is one of 738 (approx.) Sutters to have played professional hockey. Brody is the son of Duane Sutter and played with his cousin, Brett Sutter (Darryl’s son) for the Checkers over the last two seasons; Brandon Sutter (Brent’s son) also played for the ‘Canes from 2009-12.

Brody has yet to make his NHL debut but did put up some decent numbers in the American League, scoring eight goals and 28 points in 69 games for Charlotte last season.

As for the injured ‘Canes listed above, it sounds as though Skinner will return to the lineup soon but things aren’t as good for Dwyer, who was placed on IR today.

Would Carolina be better off trading Eric Staal?


Expectations were already pretty low for the 2014-15 Carolina Hurricanes, but after a slew of injuries, the team is in such a state that grim comments like these ring true:

With all the doom, gloom and injuries, there’s the impulse to wonder if the organization might be best served by cleaning house or at least making some big changes. That’s an especially interesting consideration since new GM Ron Francis and head coach Bill Peters inherited this ‘Canes core from an old regime.

In other words, all the ingredients are coming together to produce the latest round of Eric Staal trade rumors.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported on Tuesday that, at some point before the season began, the 29-year-old expressed a willingness to waive his no-trade clause to join the Toronto Maple Leafs. The asking price would be steep: possibly some combination of a first-round pick, occasional healthy scratch victim Jake Gardiner and one of Tyler Bozak or Nazem Kadri.

The Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons shed some additional light on the rumors, noting the following:

  • A deal involving Gardiner and Kadri may be more realistic, as a first-rounder (particularly in the 2015 NHL Draft) would be too steep. (Some believe even that package would be too steep.)
  • Nothing has been discussed since the regular season kicked off.

HNIC’s Elliotte Friedman was a little more coy about the situation in his weekly 30 Thoughts for Sportsnet:

There’s no guarantee the Hurricanes move Staal, and he controls the situation. But teams are going to take a close look at him — just in case. You forget he’s still a week shy of 30.

Keeping in mind that this is pure speculation – possibly stemming from talks that cooled since the first meaningful hockey began, according to Simmons – would such a move be worth it for the Hurricanes or a team looking to grab the big center?

Carolina’s concerns

During the offseason, PHT readers were asked about various trade routes for Carolina. The most common answers were “Blow it up” and “Stay put,” but after that, a greater number of readers opted for trading Eric Staal than those who recommended moving the likes of Alexander Semin, his brother Jordan or Jeff Skinner.

(Names like Cam Ward were excluded because, frankly, that would have been too easy.)

From a box office standpoint, trading Staal could be risky for Carolina. He’s the captain, a four-time All-Star and a player who truly blossomed in the Hurricanes’ unexpected run to winning the 2006 Stanley Cup.

Let’s also not forget that Carolina isn’t necessarily a marquee destination for free agents; aside from Semin, the Hurricanes’ best players tend to come from the draft (Eric Staal, Skinner, Ward) or trades (Jordan Staal). The franchise may very well regret parting with its No. 1 center.

Staal’s value

That said, he’s two weeks from turning 30 and carries a hefty salary cap price tag of $8.25 million through the 2015-16 season.

Stats blogger turned NHL team employee Eric Tulsky broke down how quickly things tend to go so south as a forward hits the big 3-0:

In addition, we now have an estimate of how even strength scoring ability changes through a player’s 30’s. On average, players retain about 90% of their scoring through age 29, but the drop from there is pretty sharp — they hit 80% at age 31, 70% at age 32-33, and 60% at age 35.

If anything, Eric Staal might be showing earlier signs of decline. His 100-point season from 2005-06 almost seemed like a mirage, as he eventually settled mostly in the mid-70’s during what might be considered his prime years. The 2012-13 season provided some renewed hope for true dominance – his 53 points in 48 games would translate to 90 over a full season – but he dropped down to 61 points last season.

Plenty of teams would gladly add a guy with 60-point or 70-point potential, but that might not be satisfying at Staal’s price tag, especially at the cost of some nice assets. Still, Simmons lays out a solid argument for why Staal might be especially enticing:

But Staal, the Hurricanes captain, is the kind of gem of a player, if available, who would interest just about anybody. He is 6-foot-4. He has played some of his best hockey at the Air Canada Centre. He has had 100- and 90-point seasons in his career. He is coming off one of the few poor seasons of his career. But the year before, the shortened 48-game lockout year, he scored at 90-point pace.

The last Leafs centre to have a 90-point season was Mats Sundin. That was 17 years ago.


It’s important to note that talks have reportedly simmered down, yet with Carolina struggling and teams hungry to improve, it’s plausible that they could rev back up again.