The Carolina Hurricanes aren’t exactly known for making big splashes in the free agent market. They build through the draft, and try to retain core players. It looks like rookie Jeff Skinner is the next big thing in the Southeast Division.
Career Stats: Games – Goals – Assists
2010 – 2011: 17 – 6 – 9
It’s close to a point per game pace, which is impressive for any player, not just a rookie. And so far, he has more points than any other freshman, and Skinner is starting to pull away. One other note: he’s the youngest player in the league.
Profile: Skinner is starting to receive certain comparisons to Crosby when he came into the league. He’s not big, but has tree trunks for legs, giving him a strong base and good balance. This translates to him being able to hold off bigger, stronger opponents trying to get the puck away from him. Skinner’s background isn’t exactly like any other hockey players. He won bronze in 2004 at the Canadian Junior National Figure Skating Championships. After that, he manned up and decided to stick to hockey full time. He played in the OHL for the Kitchener Rangers, leading the team in scoring during his rookie year. The following season, he netted 50 goals to lead all draft eligible players. Despite his gaudy numbers, Central Scouting didn’t rank him very highly among North American skaters. The Hurricanes must have known a bit better, when they drafted him 7th overall in this past summer’s NHL Entry Draft.
What Makes Him Special?: When a guy his size puts up standout numbers, he has to have a special talent. For Skinner, it’s knowing how and when to go to the net. While the NHL does look to protect players more, it’s still not safe to hang around the crease a lot. Skinner doesn’t shy away from heading hard to the net. He slips around defenders and gets to rebounds very quickly. He can stickhandle well in traffic too. We haven’t seen anything dazzling yet, but he can get around defenders in tight space. He’s going to have to remain fearless in order to have continued success. Like Danny Briere and Mike Cammalleri, his style of play is perfect for his size. He’s takes advantage of his small stature, and he just has to work hard to keep playing the way he does.
Jersey Worthy?: With a rookie it’s always good to wait a little. Maybe he slows down, maybe he keeps this pace up. But if he proves to have a consistent work ethic, then go for it.
Hate factor: I haven’t heard of him being much of a little pest, so right now it’s low. But if Carolina keeps getting embarrassed and games turn rough, we’ll see what kind of guy he is.
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