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Rookie Years - Kane, Stamkos, Tavares, Hall, Skinner

I was amazed watching Skinner tonight against the Rangers. Without him, that first goal doesn't happen. His goal on the feed from LaRose was a thing of beauty - no sooner on his stick than in the net. Skinner is not fading away. Naturally, I checked his stats to see how he stands in the race for rookie of the year. Those stats were fresh in my mind when I went to check out the Lightning-Thrashers score. I saw that Stamkos had scored still more goals.

That made me wonder how obvious it was that Stamkos was going to be such an incredible goal scorer. Well, it was obvious that he would be very good, but I couldn't help noticing that the numbers for his full rookie season aren't far ahead of Skinner's current rookie numbers after 47 games. For the heck of it, I decided to check out the other recent forwards who were taken first overall and see how Skinner compares to them.

Let me acknowledge that this comparison is crazy on its face- a 7th overall pick halfway through his rookie season with the last four 1st overall picks, three of them having completed a full season. Let me further acknowledge that's it's foolish to project any numbers for Skinner.

Nevertheless, here's how the comparison looks.

Top Picks Overall 2007 to Present, Plus Jeff Skinner

                            GP           G              A                 P                   +/-

Kane                82             21           51               72                  -5

Stamkos         79             23           23               46                 -13

Tavares           82              24          30              54                 -15

Hall                  45             14           13              27                   -9

Skinner           47             17           22              39                  +3

Five things about these numbers stand out. First, Hall and Skinner seem on pace to be the best two goal scorers as rookies among these five players at age 18. Second, Skinner after 47 games is close to where Stamkos was in total points after 79 games, trailing 46-39. Third, Skinner is the only player on the list with a positive +/-. Fourth, Skinner has a pretty good shot at finishing as the top goal scorer in this comparison of rookie seasons. Fifth, Skinner has a slim shot at tying Kane as the top point producer--it's within the realm of possibility for Skinner to finish with 30 goals and 42 assists. 

It's hard to appreciate just how good this kid looks so far. After the jump, some perspective: a quick look at the other players picked 7th in this time span.

Seventh Picks Overall in NHL Drafts 2000-2010

2007 Jakub Voracek

2008 Colin Wilson

2009 Nazim Kadri

2010 Jeff Skinner

Voracek this season has 29 points after 45 games. Colin Wilson has 23 points after 46 games. Nazim Kadri has 6 points, all assists, in 17 games and is back in the AHL. Skinner as a rookie is well ahead of the other recent 7th picks.

The other 7th picks dating to 2000 and best season stats for the forwards.

2006 Kyle Okposo, 52 points in 80 games

2005 Jack Skille, 16 points in 44 games

2004 Rotislav Olesz,, 30 points in 75 games

2003 Ryan Suter

2002 Joffrey Lupul, 53 points in 81 games

2001 Mike Komisarek

2000 Lars Jonsson

Some very good forwards have been taken 7th since 2000, but Jeff Skinner is far ahead of the curve.

Other Forwards Drafted First Overall Back to 2000

There are four: Kovalchuk, Nash, Ovechkin and Crosby.

As rookies:

Nash: 39 points in 74 games

Kovalchuk: 51 points in 65 games

Ovechkin: 106 points in 81 games

Crosby: 102 points in 81 games

There are only two first overall picks who seem clearly to be on a different plane from Skinner. And though it's hard to believe, Jeff Skinner has scored one more goal than Ovechkin this season. I'm not suggesting Skinner can be another Ovechkin, but I couldn't resist mentioning this surprising fact about Carolina's prize rookie.

Will the RBC Center be big enough for Jeff Skinner?

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