Jeff Skinner is on a tear through the first six games of the season. He’s leading the Carolina Hurricanes in scoring with seven points, including five assists and two goals.
Meanwhile, the first line and most notably Jiri Tlusty is not producing that well. The second line is getting some scoring, but its main prerogative is defense.
So, should the Canes consider moving Skinner up to the first line, replacing Tlusty to help open up some offense?
I think no, but there’s definitely an argument to make for Skinner to be promoted to the top line.
For one, Skinner is scoring with limited ice time. Against the Capitals, the 21-year-old played 11 minutes and recorded two assists. Tlusty played 18 minutes and did not record a point.
Skinner is also helping his teammates contribute to the offense. Radek Dvorak, his linemate, has two goals, he helped set up Jay Harrison‘s goal against the Flyers and has become a force on the power-play.
But even with all this considered, I still think Skinner should stay at third line and here’s why:
The first line is going against some tough forwards and defensemen. Besides scoring, the top line is expected to contribute defensively, which Skinner has had problems with throughout his career.
Eric Staal, Alexander Semin and Tlusty showed last year that they have no problems scoring against tough opponents, but everyone on that line is having problems scoring at this point of the season. Tlusty may be the more obvious one, but it’s not like Staal is scoring at a great pace right now.
The line is likely to get going eventually. Last season, it didn’t start out that strong, but with the skill of the three players, the line can’t be held back for too much longer.
However, I believe Skinner and his line deserves more time on the ice. The trio of Skinner, Dvorak and Riley Nash has looked strong and currently have scored 38% of the Canes goals.
But if Kirk Muller decides to promote Skinner to the first line, it’s understandable. Skinner has been the Canes best player so far and has worked hard for a promotion.