Jeff Skinner: 2016-2017 By the Numbers
NHL Seasons: 7
Games Played: 79
Scoring: 37g - 26a - 63p
Ice Time: 17:44 all situations, 2:16 PP, 0:00 SH
5-on-5 Stats: 51.1% CF, 51.7% GF
Contract Status: Completed fourth year of six-year, $34.35 million contract
Making the Grade
On a team with not very many players who were obviously ready to step up as leaders heading into this season, Jeff Skinner sure grew into that role in a big way this year.
But I’ll get to that, because there’s something else I want to talk about first that sort of goes hand-in-hand with that.
We need to talk about and acknowledge the fact that for a solid month, Jeff Skinner was the best offensive player in the NHL, and pretty easily.
From the start of the Hurricanes’ point streak on March 9th to the regular season’s conclusion on April 9th, no player on hockey generated more individual expected goals at 5-on-5 than Skinner’s 7.30. Connor McDavid was close with 6.96. Nobody else came within two expected goals of McDavid. Eric Staal had 4.87 in that stretch, and so did Rickard Rakell. The two players directly behind them? Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, with 4.79 and 4.57 respectively.
Those expected goals numbers translated into real goals, too. Skinner scored 13 5-on-5 goals in that stretch. Nobody else had 10.
That’s pretty unbelievable. The NHL right now is Connor McDavid’s league. The popular NHL media still promotes Sidney Crosby as the league’s best player, but that’s no longer the case, and not because of any dip in Crosby’s play. The baton was passed and it was placed on a ship that has sailed. In the NHL today, there is Connor McDavid and then there is everybody else.
But for that one-month stretch, there was Jeff Skinner and then there was Connor McDavid... and then there was everybody else.
This isn’t to say that we should expect Skinner to maintain that sort of play over a full season. He isn’t better than McDavid or Crosby, but keep that in mind when you hear someone talking about how the Hurricanes lack an elite offensive talent, because they’re wrong to say that.
The fact that Skinner finished sixth in the NHL in goals this year should be enough to prove that. His 37 in that category were a career high.
I’m all about quantifying things with stats and data, but Skinner’s impact on this team this year went far beyond that.
When the Hurricanes were on that streak and making their playoff push, Skinner capital-L Led this team.
He scored the game-winning breakaway goal in New Jersey. He scored the tying goal late at home against Columbus, and then made the play in overtime that set up a memorable winning goal from Noah Hanifin.
When the pressure was on, time and time again, the dynamic winger was the one who picked up the slack and kept the team in the race.
General manager Ron Francis and head coach Bill Peters have been asked repeatedly if not having a captain affected this team this season and if they plan on naming one before the next one starts. Each time, they’ve pretty much punted on the question.
I obviously can’t speak to whether or not they were hamstrung by not having a designated leader this year, but based solely on what we all saw unfold on the ice in the latter portion of the last season, the choice is clear if they plan on naming a captain:
It’s got to be Skinner.
How do you grade Jeff Skinner’s 2016-2017 season?
This poll is closed
A - significantly outperformed expectations
B - outperformed expectations
C - met expectations
D - underperformed expectations
F - significantly underperformed expectations