Monday, September 20, 2010

Hurricanes should find a roster spot for 18-year-old Skinner

The Carolina Hurricanes had trouble scoring goals and creating scoring chances last season. Jeff Skinner, the team's first-round draft pick, scored 70 goals in 84 games last year for the Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers.

Sure, there will be growing pains if the Hurricanes give the 18-year-old Skinner a roster spot. But the Canes are looking for a third-line center behind Eric Staal and Brandon Sutter, and the Canes have decided to go young. So, why not give the youngster a chance?

By all accounts, he is mature for his age. He comes from a good family. He can handle the fame and limelight. He's a competitor. He plays intelligently. He works hard as evidenced, in part, by his commitment to conditioning and strength training that he's done with Gary Roberts. He's quick and a natural goal scorer.

While he's relatively small at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds and he's not known for his skating ability, those aren't things that are going to change after another year in the Ontario Hockey League.

Hopefully the Canes will find a roster spot for Skinner. If they have someone else they want on the squad as the third center, they can try Skinner at wing. But the Hurricanes need scoring and Skinner can score.

Canes Notes: The Carolina Hurricanes open their 2010 exhibition schedule against the Florida Panthers Tuesday at the RBC Center.

The Hurricanes signed former Edmonton Oiler Patrick O'Sullivan, who was raised in Winston-Salem. He had an undistinguished season a year ago but he's only 25 and will be playing for his home state. Maybe his career can get back on track. O'Sullivan was the American Hockey League's Outstanding Rookie and was named to the 2006 AHL All-Star game.

Carolina begins the regular-season with two games against the Minnesota Wild in Helsinki, Finland on Oct. 7-8. For the record, I'm not fond of playing regular season games overseas - for any sport.

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