Carolina Hurricanes first round draft pick Jeff Skinner has been very impressive this preseason. He is currently tied for the team's lead in goal scoring, (2) and he has shown off a variety of offensive moves, some of which have never been seen from a Hurricane rookie before.
Jim Rutherford has a tough decision coming up. After Skinner has played in nine regular season games, the rookie either needs to be returned to his junior team, the Kitchener Rangers, or he stays with the Hurricanes for the duration of the season. There is no moving him back and forth later in the year and the Charlotte Checkers are not an option because the youngster is not old enough to play in the AHL.
There are several factors that will play into this decision, other than just how many goals he's scored. His long term development, his long term contract status, the team's other young asset development, and his on ice safety could also be concerns.
For instance, his entry level contract is good for three years. The contract Skinner recently signed does not take affect until the rookie plays longer than his nine game tryout. (He does get to keep his signing bonus.) It might be better for the team if the contract starts next season, rather than this season. This would extend the player's entry level status as well as his future RFA status with the team by one year. If the Canes don't make the playoffs this year, it could be considered a wasted year on his contract if he stays.
On the other hand, some sources say that he's learned about all he can learn at the junior level, his development would be better served staying in Carolina. Even some of his fans in Kitchener don't think he'll be back. After scoring 50 goals in the regular season and another 20 in the playoffs last year, what more is there for him to prove in the juniors? (Although playing in the World Junior Championships would be a good challenge and he still needs work on his defense.)
It might just come down to the fact that the Canes might need him on their roster in order to be competitive this year.
Fans seem to have different opinions and different reasons for their opinions about this. What do you think?