Jeff Skinner has budded into a star for the Carolina Hurricanes this season. He has been the NHL’s hottest goal scorer while playing with Eric Staal on the Carolina Hurricanes first-line. He is now on the third-line with Elias Lindholm and Tuomo Ruutu. While both of Jeff Skinner’s line mates deserve a spot on the third line, Jeff Skinner should be in the top-six. He should learn how to play with Jordan Staal.
The Carolina Hurricanes second-line has been very solid this year. They have shut down top players on opposing teams all year, but offense hasn’t been easy for the line. The second line has been Patrick Dwyer and Nathan Gerbe, centered by Jordan Staal for most of the season.
Nathan Gerbe is a second-line player. He has played very well with Jordan Staal, and has proven to be very good on both offense and defense, despite his small stature. I think you can make a case for Patrick Dwyer being too high in the lineup. I think Patrick Dwyer is more of a third-line checking player, at least more so than a second-line player. He just lacks offense.
If Jeff Skinner could learn how to play on the Carolina Hurricanes second-line with Jordan Staal and Nathan Gerbe, it will make the whole team better. Jeff Skinner would make the second line a huge offensive threat. The biggest problem with Skinner playing on Jordan’s wing is the defensive responsibility.
When the Carolina Hurricanes traded for Jordan Staal, the plan was for Jeff Skinner to be his line mate. That fell through following a rough shortened season. Jeff Skinner couldn’t handle playing against the other team’s top forwards, but I would argue that he can now.
Jeff Skinner has matured as an all-around player this year. He has really improved in all areas. Through 42 games last year, Jeff Skinner’s plus/minus was a -21. This year, that number is down to a -4 through 37 games. He is leaps and bounds better in his own end this year compared to last year.
Another reason why Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner struggled last year was because Jordan Staal was not playing his game. He was trying too hard to be a finesse player that gets tons of points. This year, he has been a great power forward, and that has led to success. Jeff Skinner’s finesse game paired with Jordan Staal’s power game could be lethal. I think two stars could be very good together if they can learn how to play with each other.
Jeff Skinner playing on the third-line can’t last forever. Eventually, playing a star like Jeff Skinner in the bottom-six will become costly to the growth of a potential super star, even if he is playing a lot of power play time. I think it is time to experiment a Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner second-line once again.