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Skinner's Future in Hands of Francis

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Rumblings of Jeff Skinner's name in the trade market have been going on a while, what is Ron Francis looking for in return?

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

If the rumors are indeed true, Jeff Skinner is on the market.

Yes, the very same Jeff Skinner who managed 31 goals and 32 assists in his rookie season, won the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, and became the youngest player to appear in an NHL All-Star game since Steve Yzerman. Yes, he still looks like he is 12.

But what has changed since his rookie season is the amount of concussions he has endured.  Two concussions in a span of 12 months is certainly not ideal for any professional athlete. Because of his injuries, his production has dwindled and his play has become cautious.

As C-Leaguer stated, it is indeed time to trade the young fellow while he still has some value left, if the price is right. Other teams aren’t oblivious to the fact that if concussions persist for the 23-year-old, his career could end prematurely.

Skinner has missed time in the 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and the 2014-2015 seasons due to concussions and did not post more than 20 goals in those seasons.  In 2013-2014 however, Skinner stayed healthy for the majority of the season-avoiding a concussion although only playing 71 games - and reached a season-high of goals with 33.

A change of scenery could bode well for the Toronto native, possibly in his hometown. In fact, the Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly still willing to trade the likes of captain Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak, and Joffrey Lupul. Considering Eric Staal attempted to fire a slapshot at Dion Phaneuf, we’ll set him aside on this one.

Despite Bozak’s lethargic contract – which the Hurricanes are no stranger to (see Eric, Jordan, Alex Semin, Cam Ward) – he was third in points and goals for the Leafs last season. He is also an asset on special teams recording a team-high 12 power play goals and two short handed as well. Needless to say the Hurricanes could certainly use some help on the powerplay.

However, the conflict with Bozak is his age in comparison to Skinner’s. He’s 29 but he also tallied his best 82 game season in 2014-2015 with 23 goals and 26 assists. Despite having the same point totals in 2013-2014, Bozak only appeared in 52 games that season. Granted, after the season Lupul had his stock may have dropped, but we also are aware Skinner’s isn’t what it used to be either.

It’s also not a surprise that the Penguins could be a possible suitor for Jeff Skinner. Having already acquired a winger in Phil Kessel but with Pascal Dupuis still questionable, would they opt for a winger-for-winger trade or maybe a little bit more than that? Beau Bennett would be the same age as Skinner and would add a little bit of size to the forwards. While Bennett’s production hasn’t been great, he’s been playing third or fourth line minutes and has yet to play more than 50 games in a season for the Pens.

Another thing that might be a factor in Skinner’s cautious play is the awareness of having no protection, enforcement, or bodyguards. When was the last time a player stood up in defense of Skinner who wasn't smaller than Skinner? Type in "Jeff Skinner hit" on YouTube and you will only find Chad LaRose dropping the gloves after Jared Cowen’s hit.

But as Chip Alexander tweeted, the Hurricanes need to make sure the price and pieces are right for whatever they may get in return for Skinner.  Despite his downplayed performance, he is still highly popular among fans and for that they need an equal or more dominant counterpart in return. Skinner poses the type of value that – along with a draft pick or prospect- could very well allow the Hurricanes to obtain a player that can be a game-changing forward they very much need.