At this point in time, no one expects Jeff Skinner to pull on a Carolina Hurricanes jersey come October. He’s one of the top forwards being touted as trade bait this summer, and his contract – the second-most on the team at $5.725 million for one more year – may prove to be a bit of a hassle when the Canes have to resign Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teräväinen soon.
(To be fair, the Canes always have loads of cap space, constrained more by an internal cap than anything else. If Dundon removes this internal cap – as he is expected to do – that story changes.)
Skinner deserves this high profile too. He was fourth overall in scoring on this team over the 2017-2018 season, behind only the Finns and Justin Williams. Additionally, he was at the top of the league in shots on goal, ranking twelfth overall with 277 shots over the season, despite playing (at the very least) three fewer minutes a game than anyone else ahead of him. These are the traits that the Hurricanes hope to exhibit to sell him off.
However, that would be a mistake. Skinner, especially when given the ice time and the right linemates (and kept far, far away from Derek Ryan), is clearly one of the most integral parts of scoring on this team. One area where the Hurricanes have been underwhelming is scoring. Over this past season, they ranked 23rd in the league in goals. Trading Skinner away would be counterproductive to the Hurricanes’ main goal.
Of course, the Canes are also lacking in solid goaltending, and Skinner could be a bargaining chip to finally fix that hole. Another bargaining chip the Hurricanes have, however, is their solid defense depth. Defense, furthermore, seems to be valued more on the trade market than wingers are. It stands to reason, then, that Noah Hanifin is also a target for trades this offseason, as well as Justin Faulk. Unlike the loss of Skinner, the Canes can eat losses on the blue line in return for a solid presence in net without much difficulty.
Jeff Skinner also has benefits off the ice. As a fan favorite, Skinner has sometimes been touted as a face of the franchise. While the Hurricanes are not as lacking in fans as other fanbases may believe, this team still needs to build up a stronger fanbase while keeping the fans they already have.
Trading Skinner for goaltending shows a reliance on incoming rookies like Valentin Zykov and Lucas Wallmark, who were stellar in the Charlotte Checkers’ playoff run this year. While they’d still be behind Sebastian Aho (who’s the only player the Canes are absolutely tied to this offseason), they may not be able to bear the scoring burden that Skinner bore, especially not if the Canes are seriously gunning for a playoff spot.
- Former Hurricane Jeff Daniels has been added to the coaching staff for this upcoming season. Daniels has also held many positions in the Hurricanes organization after retirement, most notably GM and head coach of the Charlotte Checkers. Tom Dundon had been saying that he wanted to bring in all new faces, but so far everyone new has been part of the old guard in one way or another.
- The Chicago Blackhawks may be looking to get Scott Darling back. Considering Cam Ward’s UFA status, it’s unlikely that the Canes make this trade without a lot in return. Personally, I’d like to see Alex Debrincat, although that’s a long shot.
- The Canes have had the best alternate jerseys in the league, and fans were sorry to see them go when the NHL switched over to Adidas jerseys. Good news – they’re (probably) coming back with a bit of a redesign. #TakeWarning seems to be the new social media brand too, replacing #Redvolution. It’s good to see that the front office is making an effort to make the team more likable, hopefully bringing in more fans.