Jeff Skinner: 2017-18 By The Numbers
- Age: 26 on May 16
- NHL Seasons: 8
- Scoring: 24g—25a—49pts
- Ice Time: 16:42 all situations, 14:36 ES, 2:06 PP
- 5-on-5 Stats: 55.07% CF, 41.18% GF (55.51% xGF)
- Contract Status: Entering final season of six-year, $34.35 million contract (AAV $5.725 million), UFA on July 1, 2019
Eight years, five 20-goal seasons, three 30-goal seasons, three different head coaches, one Calder Trophy, zero playoff appearances.
That’s the tale of the tape for soon-to-be 26-year-old Jeff Skinner.
For number 53, this season was a step back for a variety of reasons. After finishing sixth in the league in goal-scoring in 2016-17, he saw a 35% percent drop off as he went from 37 goals to 24. To boot, rumors circulating about his riff with now former head coach Bill Peters and the system he employed only added more drama to what was, as a whole, a colossal failure of a season for the Carolina Hurricanes.
While the plus/minus stat’s value as a tool in evaluating player performance is lessening by the year, his minus-27 rating was the worst of his career. When you’re flirting with a -30 at year’s end, you notice a trend that is, regardless of what your opinion of the stat is, undeniably concerning.
How much of Skinner’s problems this season were because of him? And how much blame can be placed on his misusage from Peters and the coaching staff? Those are questions that Tom Dundon and Carolina’s braintrust will have to answer between now and the NHL Draft in June.
Skinner is entering the final year of his contract and, if he isn’t going to be a part of the new-look Canes in October, then you have to explore all avenues in order to get the maximum value for him.
One avenue that this team could go down is that of a trade.
Ever since Columbus dangled Rick Nash out there as trade bait in 2012, Jeff Skinner’s name hasn’t been prone to trade rumors. Though, through thick (his 37-goal year in 2016-17) and thin (his 18-goal year in 2014-15), the Canes have stood by their player and opted not to do anything rash, but only time will tell if this offseason will render the same results.
What you get with Skinner is the possibility of huge production. When he is playing the way that we all know he can play, he can be one of the very best goal-scorers in the NHL. He has showed over the past eight years that he can a game-breaker. Though, with the good, you get the bad - defensive lapses, runs of indifferent-looking play, goal droughts, and visible frustration.
During the Bill Peters era, we saw the pendulum swing back and forth on a consistent basis. That was thanks, in large part, to Peters’ strong systematic approach to coaching this team. He wanted the Hurricanes to be a lock-down defensive team that could take advantage of the few offensive chances they got throughout the course of a game. While, in theory, that sounds like a good way to coach a playoff-quality team, it ended up backfiring in terms of producing consistent success. Things turned for the worse when the coach refused to coach the team he had instead of the team he wanted.
He tried to shove Skinner into a two-way forward box when it was painfully obvious that the player was absolutely not that. That, in combination with some aspects in Skinner’s game that he will need to do some soul-searching about over the next few months, led to a lot of problems.
By the end of game 82, Skinner had 24 goals, but if he had shot 13.2% like he did a season ago, he would have found the back of the net 36 times. Instead, his shooting percentage decreased and the bounces he once got were no longer present. He also couldn’t stick on any of Carolina’s forward lines and, time and time again, found himself being centered by Derek Ryan.
This season should be taken with a grain of salt for just about every player on this team, and that includes Skinner. The team and the coaching staff were on different planets with regards to how they wanted to play hockey, and that ended up hurting a lot of players.
If it were up to me, the team would bring in a new head coach who would be committed to putting Skinner in situations that he could succeed in. He should not be seeing his ice time falter and he should not be playing with a fourth-line center. He needs to be used in a legitimate top-six role and he needs a center who can consistently get him the puck.
If the Hurricanes can make that happen between now and October, then he needs to be on this team. If they can’t, they need to maximize his value and trade him for pieces that can make this team better, preferably this year.
Jeff Skinner didn’t have a good year. He was visibly frustrated, and he had every right to be. It’s not his fault that he has the longest active streak among players to never play in a playoff game. That said, we’d all be kidding ourselves to think that he couldn’t have given more.
If he is back with the team in October, it needs to be with a new head coach that knows how to get the most out of him - preferably with line mates who won’t hold him back. It’s nearly impossible to replace an elite goal scorer, but the organization needs to give themselves a chance of getting that out of Skinner.
How do you grade Jeff Skinner’s performance in the 2017-18 season?
This poll is closed
A - outstanding performance
B - above average performance
C - average performance
D - below average performance
F - significantly below average performance