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Notes at Noon: Peers Say Skinner is Best Rookie - Memorable Season Comes To End For Checkers

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While winning the Calder Trophy would be a tremendous accomplishment, Carolina Hurricanes rookie Jeff Skinner might be more proud of being named the NHL's top rookie by The Sporting News. 

Yesterday, the publication made it official when they announced that Skinner was indeed their "NHL Rookie of the Year."

But unlike some of the other awards which are named by sportswriters, this particular award was determined by a vote of fellow players.  Is there any higher honor?

Over 62 percent of the responding players voted for the Carolina rookie. 

Next up will be the Awards Show in Vegas.  We'll see if the majority of sportswriters agree with the players.

The Charlotte Checkers inaugural season came to an unceremonious end last night in Binghamton as the Senators defeated the Checkers,4-3 in overtime. 

After beating last year's Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears, as well as the team with the best regular season record this year, the Wilkes/Barre-Scranton Penguins, the Sens proved too much for the Checkers and swept them in four games. 

What happened to the Checkers?  In this writer's opinion, inexperience caught up to them. 

Let's not forget, this team was the youngest one participating in the playoffs.  But not only was Charlotte the youngest team in average age, the players who were depended upon the most were the team's youngest as well.

For instance, Binghamton's top two scorers in the playoffs, Ryan Potulny (25 points in 17 games) and Ryan Keller, (22 points in 17 games) are both 26-years-old.  Team captain, Corey Locke, who led the entire league in scoring during the regular season, is age 27.

During the regular season, the Checkers were led by Zach Boychuk, (age 21), Zac Dalpe (age 21), and Chris Terry, (age 22).  (in points per game average).

Also, goalie Mike Murphy, (age 22) was sporting a .944 save percentage up until the Binghamton series.  It was pretty unlikely that he would be able to continue that tremendous pace for much longer.

So while Jim Rutherford gave the Hurricanes credit for having a "very good " season, let's give the Charlotte Checkers and their coaching staff some credit for a job well done.   They were just one series away from playing for the Calder Cup and that would have been a tremendous accomplishment for this group.

On Tuesday, Rutherford praised the Checkers organization when I asked him about the inaugural year of their affiliation.

"They have an excellent owner and we could not be happier with how things have gone in this first year of our partnership'" the Carolina GM told me. 

Things should only get better in the future because the Hurricanes have a cupboard full of top-notch prospects coming through the pipeline and these young kids, if they don't make the Hurricanes roster next season, will only continue to get better and will shine in Charlotte next season.