Sophomore Slump for Skinner? Don’t Bet On It

Posted: August 21, 2011 by Realdeal in Calder Trophy, Carolina Hurricanes
Tags: , , , , ,

Last season, 18 year old Jeff Skinner joined some elite company.  He became the fourth 18 year old to win the Calder trophy as NHL’s Rookie of the Year, scoring 32 goals and 63 points.  He became the youngest winner since Tom Barrasso in 1983-84.  Many 18 year olds have played in the NHL, but only eleven have scored 60 points in one season.  Of those eleven, nine played in the 1980s, when scoring was up.  The only one who’s done it outside of that decade besides Skinner, is Sidney Crosby.  Ironically, Skinner replaced Crosby in the All Star Game this past season.  Of the ten players ahead of Skinner on that list, all ten had productive seasons their second year.  Even the “bust” Jimmy Carson had two great years before tailing off.

Now Jeff Skinner is not going to produce Crosby numbers (120 points, Art Ross winner in his second year). Crosby posted over 100 points his rookie year to Skinner’s 63. Skinner played with Eric Staal most of last year on the Hurricanes’ top line.  But Skinner played 16:43 per game, which was only seventh most on his team.  That will surely increase this season, especially with the departure of Erik Cole.  He’ll most likely be called on for more power play minutes (played 3:10 per game last year).  More time will equal more scoring chances, which should increase his point total.

Some point to his slump in February as hitting the rookie wall.  He had never played more than 64 games in a regular season.  He was playing more minutes with Carolina to that point.  But the year before, he had played 20 OHL playoff games in addition to the 64 regular season games, bringing that total to 84.  If February was Skinner hitting the “rookie wall”, he broke through it in March, scoring 7 goals in 14 games.

Fantasywise, Skinner’s a tricky projection.  Will he regress? Will he continue to improve?  With only one NHL season under his belt, there are plenty of questions and concerns.  Most preseason rankings have him somewhere between 40th and 75th overall, which, depending on your league’s peers, could leave him as a steal in the later rounds.

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