Saturday, October 30, 2010

What a start for Canes' rookie Skinner

What a great pick Jeff Skinner is turning out to be for the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes had a disastrous season in 2009-10, which netted them the seventh pick in the draft. Over at Capital Sports, you could hear us screaming to keep losing - and get the No. 1 pick and Taylor Hall.

Well, that didn't work out. The Canes played their way down the draft order with some inspired late-season play. They had the seventh pick in the draft, which you figured might get them a promising defenseman like Cam Fowler if they were lucky. And sure enough, Fowler was available at No. 7.

But Carolina played a hunch and took Skinner, who doesn't have huge size but is blessed with offensive skills. He scored two goals Friday in the 4-3 win over the New York Rangers, which is just remarkable stuff for an 18-year-old player. He is now tied for the team lead in points, with nine, and has three goals and four assists. He even had a brilliant shoot-out goal in Helsinki.

Now we all realize it's a long NHL season, and the thrill of the start gives way to the grind of an endless series of games, but it's clear Skinner has NHL-level talent. Franchises can't afford to blow high picks like No. 7, and you have to give Carolina credit for a gutsy choice that could pay off for a long time.

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