Penguins Looking at Jeff Skinner?

I got an alert on my phone this morning announcing that Jeff Skinner might be the topic of trade conversations with the Carolina Hurricanes and, who else, but old JR. Jim Rutherford, former GM of the ‘Canes.  Rutherford now fills that role with the Pittsburgh Penguins and is reportedly considering Skinner.

Dave Molinari and Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote “Despite concussions, Carolina’s Jeff Skinner is appealing to Penguins.” They wrote,

“Skinner is on the list of candidates the Penguins might try to acquire to play on one of their top two lines.”

Of course, the caveat before that quote was that Skinner might be one of the game’s biggest question marks because of his history of concussions.

Yea that

Hurricanes fans by and large seem fond of Skinner. You don’t hear as much criticism hurled his way as say, Eric Staal or Alexander Semin. It’s easy to understand that Skinner has been the recipient of bad fortune in the form of three concussions in his five seasons with the Hurricanes.

The fact remains that there appears to have been some impact on Skinner’s play that could be attributed to his series of concussions. Having scored 30-plus goals in a season twice, and winning the Calder Trophy in his rookie season, Skinner carries a certain expectation to score. No one would have predicted he would end up with 18 goals and 13 assists last season. But, there was another concussion early that seemed to affect is game.

I do not know what is going on in Skinner’s head. However, I did hear more than a few times the question raised by my colleagues in the media whether he was “right” after the most recent concussion.

At times, he lacked the kind of aggressive moves to the net that we have seen from Skinner in the past.

One has to wonder if he is just a bit tentative about the possibility of another injury, especially another concussion.

Ronnie’s Ready

While a lot of eyes have been on Ron Francis, Rutherford’s successor as GM of the Hurricanes, they have mostly been watching to see what he is going to do with Eric Staal and Cam Ward. While Skinner has been mentioned in passing, he has not been the real focal point of trade speculation for the team. Until now.

Apparently, Francis is ready to listen when it comes to the possibility of trading Skinner. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN wrote yesterday that the ‘Canes have let teams know that he is available. LeBrun wrote,

“Skinner doesn’t have a no-trade clause currently active in his deal; it kicks in a few years from now. So Carolina is free to move him wherever there’s a deal to be had.”

Free to move him and willing to move him seems to be the bottom line. Francis is throwing Skinner out there to see what he can get in return, and Rutherford appears to be willing to consider doing a deal.

With four years and a $5,725,000 salary-cap hit through the 2018-19 season, Skinner would be an expensive roll of the dice for any team. If he is “right” he can make a huge difference to a team’s offense. If not, he may be another case of a highly-paid player that is not able to live up to expectations.

Francis may trade Skinner but let’s hope he gets something great in return. Some Hurricanes fans aren’t warm to the idea of losing “Skins.”

This Pens fan isn’t warm to the idea of Skinner moving up North.

But, some fans of other teams are open to the idea of Skinner coming to their town.

We will watch and wait for word from the ‘Canes. Personally, I’d keep Skinner. He’s got a huge amount of raw talent and I like to think he will come out of the gate strong next season and concussion concerns will be left behind. That’s my thought.

Graham Hathaway, writing about the Detroit Red Wings and how Skinner might fit there, makes my point:

“…a player like Skinner, with his natural goal-scoring ability and age, might be worth the risk.”

Hurricanes’ management may have a different thought. We’ll see…

Mark Shiver is a staff writer for The Hockey Writers credentialed with the Carolina Hurricanes. You can follow him on Twitter @markshiver