Skinner: should he stay or should he go?

Of course, it's not up to us, and we certainly have incomplete data at this point.

So, this is not a poll, just a reasonable discussion of the pros and cons of either slotting Skinner into the lineup and developing his game further at the NHL level, or sending him back to his junior team (after a 10-game tryout?) for further baking before we take him out of the major juniors oven.

I really have no position at this point in time, but do appreciate the differences in the path chosen.

So, after the jump, let's take a look at some preliminary variables.

First of all, we know that the AHL is not an option at this point in time.  There are some nuances involved, but I'm doubtful that he sees any time at all in the AHL, even if sent back to major juniors.  He would have to be 20, so that's two more seasons with the Kitchener Rangers.  It's much more likely, in my opinion, that when he makes the jump out of major juniors, it's going to be straight to the NHL, whether this season, or the next (or the one after that).

His weaknesses, by reports, are "skating" (even though an ex-figure skater with extraordinary footwork in close quarters) and defense.  By skating, critics are actually talking about long strides moving him down the ice, not the short step work where he already excels. 

His coaches keep talking about "from the blue line in" that he's a threat, so that does seem to be a back-handed statement about his coast-to-coast speed.  Still, as a "figure-skater" I am hopeful that he both can and will take skating instruction well and can modify his style to deliver both components in a satisfactory manner.

From Kitchener fan boards I see comments on him needing to work on his defense next season, along with speculation that our forward depth will mean he's returned to them for at least a season.  They've slotted him into their first line, as its center, and talked about more special team time for him.  That would all certainly be good experience.

So, is it indeed the John Tavares route, where the player is returned to the junior team to work on defense and other attributes, while gaining weight and adding strength?  Or, is it "splash/swim", let's bring him up to join the party and he can learn as he goes, as several single-digit draft picks have done in the past?

If it is indeed the NHL route, the usual results have been an okay rookie year, followed by a breakout year the following season.  The NHL examples are numerous, and can even be found in Canes history, as well.

And then there's the 10-game tryout option before that decision is made.  Do we pack him up and take him across the big waters with us, including a piece of the big road trip afterward, then return him?

Lots of options for young Skinner.  All of them good ones.

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