I remember a few years ago, when Jeff Skinner was really turning heads in the NHL, the Carolina Hurricanes had an offer on the table from the Columbus Blue Jackets that would send Skinner to Ohio in return for scoring winger Rick Nash. Back then, Skinner still had the form of a former Calder Memorial Trophy winner, so the Canes snubbed the offer with the hopes that he would be the team’s perennial point leader. He also had age on his side. Unfortunately for the Canes, Skinner has regressed in form and has become somewhat of an injury liability (mainly concussions as of late). I can’t blame it all on Jeff Skinner himself with the team playing the way it has throughout this season, but he is clearly not producing at the pace we are accustomed to seeing. With that said, I figured I’d look at some mock trade scenarios for Jeff Skinner. I still think he remains a cornerstone of our team’s core and development, but it could be worth taking a look at if the return is worth the loss.
Entering the league for the 2010-2011 season, Skinner shocked the league by putting up 63 points (31 G, 32 A) in 82 games. This led to his winning of the Rookie of the Year honor. His scoring has never returned to these levels, only eclipsing 50 points once more during the 2013-2014 season (54). He currently has 19 points (10 G, 9 A) and a -11 +/- in 46 games. Another issue is his $5.725 million contract. He certainly has the ability to perform at the level required of a player who brings in this kind of money, but we are just not seeing it this season.
With that said, here are some mock trade scenarios.
Trading Jeff Skinner would not be easy from a fan point-of-view given his likeability, but I could see the Canes getting a decent return if GM Ron Francis decided to let him go. The first mock proposal has Skinner heading to Edmonton in exchange, predominately, for Nail Yakupov. Yakupov has fallen out of favor in Edmonton and the former first rounder has been linked to trade rumors for weeks. Many have him heading to Montreal, but for this purpose, let’s say he makes his way to Carolina. Adding another inconsistent Russian with skill could make Ron Francis wary, but the extras we could potentially receive along with Yakupov could be enough to make it worth the risk. I’m not saying he’s another Alexander Semin, he needs to develop more, but that could happen. Skinner is an immediate upgrade with less risk for the Oilers. The Oilers would also offload the disappointing Joensuu, who would join the Canes’ fourth line or depth positions. Yakimov would bolster our weak prospect system. The Canes would merely add a draft pick to compensate for player loss (specifically Yakimov). Nail Yakupov could definitely use a change of location and Jeff Skinner would most likely prosper with Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle, and Hall by his side. I doubt this would happen, but it’s something to think about.
I seem to be including the Predators in a lot of my mock trades over the past few weeks. This is for two reasons. For one, the Predators have prospects the Canes could use. They could also use one more contributing player to help them in a playoff push. Skinner has an elite scoring touch that the Preds could use on their top line, while Calle Jarnkrok could continue his promising development with the Canes. Saros has the potential to crack an NHL roster after a few more years of development as he has been labeled as a somewhat undersized goalie with exceptional movement and fundamentals. This loss would not be too detrimental to the Predators as their goalie corps are pretty set in stone at the moment. Even such, I included Daniel Altshuller in this deal to compensate for the loss. Altshuller has yet to really turn heads in the organization and could possibly use a change of developmental system. I doubt he would crack their NHL roster soon, but neither would Saros. Dougherty is a promising young defender that could easily crack the NHL roster within the next few years. He has size and quickness.
The final trade involves the struggling Maple Leafs. The coaching change will almost surely not stick and they will need to rebuild to an extent. They already have talent and an established leadership corps, but the team has made some of them available prior to the deadline. Jeff Skinner could contribute to a general change in ideals immediately. In return, the Canes would get, mainly, Jake Gardiner. Rumors over the past couple of years led me to believe that the Hurricanes have coveted Gardiner but could never get a deal done. Well, here we go. Along with Gardiner, the Canes would receive aging center Daniel Winnik, who I believe still has good speed and could contribute on the 3rd or 4th lines. Stuart Percy would spend time in Charlotte, but he could be a solid defenseman in a few years. I also included a pick on the Canes’ part to balance the trade out. The Canes receive help at a position of need and some depth. The Maple Leafs get a little change of pace and some scoring touch for the top two lines.
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I’m not saying that I necessarily want to trade Jeff Skinner, but I, like many other knowledgeable fans, would let him go for the right price. If we receive a deal that would clearly improve our team for the present and/or the future, then we should accept it. His scoring is not where it should be at the moment and moving his contract could help (depending on the return). These mock proposals may be exorbitant, but once again, I feel like teams would overpay for Skinner’s services if they are shooting for the Stanley Cup. I doubt he gets traded in the end, as he is most likely locked in with Justin Faulk, Nathan Gerbe, Elias Lindholm, and Jordan Staal as “untradeables.” We will see!