Behind The Bench: Jeff Skinner
Born: May 16, 1992
Wt: 193 lbs
Draft: 7th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2010
Plays for: Carolina Hurricanes, Plays Center and Left Wing, Shoots Left
Jersey No.: #53
Regular Season: 82 GP – 31 G – 32 A – 63 P
Playoffs: 0 GP – 0 G – 0 A – 0 P
Jeff Skinner finished the 09/10 OHL season second in goal-scoring (50) behind Bryan Cameron (53), led all CHL draft-eligible forwards in goal-scoring and became the first Kitchener Ranger to reach 50-goals in 23 years. He also finished 7th in points in the OHL behind the likes of Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall and Nazem Kadri.
Skinner finished the OHL playoffs tied with Adam Henrique for the playoff goal-scoring lead. Skinner scored 20 goals in 20 games, while Henrique scored 20 in 19 games. He also finished 2nd in points (33) behind Taylor Hall (35). Even with Skinner’s dominate performance, the Kitchener Rangers were eliminated in the Conference Finals of the OHL playoffs by the Windsor Spitfires, 4 games to 3.
Despite his impressive numbers in both the regular season and in the OHL playoffs, Central Scouting ranked Skinner 34th overall among North American skaters in their final rankings. In spite of his Centeral Scouting ranking, the Carolina Hurricanes like what they saw in Skinner and drafted him 7th overall. Skinner became the second highest drafted Ranger in 25 years and only the 3rd Kitchener Ranger to be drafted in the top 10 since Craig Wolanin went 3rd overall in the 1985 draft. Boris Valabik was drafted 10th overall in 2004 and Mikkel Boedker was drafted 8th overall in 2008. Gabriel Landeskog would become the 4th Ranger drafted since 1985 and would become the highest drafted Kitchener Ranger at 2nd overall.
Skinner signed a three-year ELC with the Hurricnaes during training camp and would make the opening day roster. Skinner made his NHL debut on October 7th, 2010 against the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, Finland, becoming one of only a handful of rookies to make their NHL debut in Europe. In his second NHL game, Skinner recorded his first NHL point on an assist to Tuumo Ruutu’s game-tying goal and would later score the game-winning shootout goal. His shootout goal made him the third youngest NHL player to score a shootout goal. Skinner would score his first NHL goal in his fifth game against Jonathan Bernier. Skinner was named to the 2011 NHL All-Star game as an injury replacement for Sidney Crosby. Skinner became the first player from the 2010 Entry Draft to be named to the All-Star Game and the first 18-year old NHL All-Star since Steve Yzerman was named in 83/84.
Skinner had a spectacular rookie season and would go on to win the Calder Trophy as the leagues top rookie. He finished with 31 goals, 32 assists and 63 points. You can see a breakdown of Skinner’s rookie season below.
Among the team
- Skinner finished 2nd for goals, 4th in assists and 2nd in points
- He finished 4th in power play points with 18 points
- Skinner finished 1st in even strength points with 45 points
- He finished in the top 5 in plus-minus with a +3 rating
- Skinner was one of seven players to play 82 games for the Hurricanes
- Skinner finished 3rd in goals, 2nd in assists and 1st in points
- He finished 1st in power play points among rookie forwards and tied for 2nd among all rookies
- Skinner finished 1st in even strength points
- He finished 2nd in plus-minus among rookies who played 82 games and 13th among rookies who played at least 60 games
- Skinner was one of four rookies to play all 82 games
Among the league
- Skinner finished in the top 25 in goal-scoring
- He finished in the top 40 in points
- Skinner finished in the top 35 for even strength points
Whether you compare him to his teammates, his fellow rookies or the entire league, Skinner showed in his rookie season that he can keep up with the best players in the league.
With Erik Cole’s offseason departure, Skinner will get the chance to spend the season on the top line with Staal and unless he suffers from a sophomore slump, his point totals should increase. Playing on the top line for the Hurricanes next season, will mean facing the leagues best shut down defensemen and checking lines, Skinner’s skills and goal-scoring ability will be tested by the best next season. Baring a slump next season, Skinner should reach 30 goals next season and eclipse his 32 assists from last season. Skinner should fall into the 70-75 point range next season and finish among the top 25 scorers in the league.
Skinner isn’t the biggest player in the league at 5’11” but he possesses a shot and scoring ability that is among the elite of the league. He is an average skater and lacks the speed to beat defenders off the rush but in his first year as an NHL’er, he has made huge strides in both areas of his game. He has tremendous agility and balance, born from his figure skating days, coupled together, they not only make him very difficult to knock off the puck, but also make him a very elusive player. Despite his size, Skinner is a battler, he’ll fight through checks and battle hard in front of the net, if you find that hard to believe, you should see footage from any of his OHL games and you’ll notice he was probably the most abused player during his time in the OHL.
Skinner is a very effective offensive-zone player, he has a very strong board game but he is also able to free wheel his way all around the offensive zone and generate chances for himself and his linemates. Skinner has great hand-to-eye co-ordination and is a very intelligent player that can find open ice very easily. He also has very understated hands and stick handling ability, on more than one occasion he’s made NHL defenders and goalies look silly with his silky smooth hands.
His prowess in the offensive-zone often overshadows his defensive game. In no way is he a two-way forward that can play a 200 ft game, but Skinner is not a liability in his own zone and can be relied upon when needed. Skinner is a competitor and has a great work ethic. He is such a consistent player, he puts out the same effort in game 1 as he does in game 82. He’s the type of player that you want out on the ice when you need a big goal.
It’s too early to say that six other teams made a mistake in not drafting Skinner when they had the chance but the early returns Skinner has given the Hurricanes definitely have some scratching their heads. Skinner has a long NHL career in front of him and he should continue to develop into a much better player than he is now. How good will he get? Nobody knows, Skinner is still a good 7 years away from reaching his “prime.“
Behind The Bench appears Monday to Friday only on puckpuckgoose.com.
Edited by: John Jasinski