After having a tremendous rookie season and taking home the Calder Trophy, Jeff Skinner's sophomore year was met with much anticipation. There were some who feared that he would have the dreaded "sophomore slump" and while he did score fewer goals, anyone who watched Skinner play this year could see that he looked like a better overall play. Skinner looked stronger than he did his rookie season and he is showing signs of becoming a complete player rather than just a goal-scorer. My biggest concern with Skinner after his rookie year was wondering whether or not he had the ability to carry a line at such a young age, and in only his second season he proved that he could. It makes Skinner a huge bright spot in a mostly forgettable season and a great sign for things to come.
In addition to that, Skinner was also one of the team's most consistent forwards at creating scoring chances and managed to keep his head well above water on a team that was very poor at controlling both possession and scoring chances. Most of the time, it takes a couple seasons to develop their games and become more well-rounded players but Skinner appears to be ahead of the game in that department. He is already shown the ability to carry lines, drive the play forward and he's even killing penalties now, too. Most of the news surrounding Skinner was negative because he suffered a concussion and his bad attitude has gotten both him and the Hurricanes into trouble. Skinner is just a kid but his play on the ice and with the puck has matured at a quicker rate than anyone could have imagine. However, his antics between the whistles is something that he needs to work on because that overshadowed what was a great season for him.
After the jump, we'll take a look at Skinner's underlying numbers throughout the season and see just how good he was.
Jeff Skinner 2011-12 Scoring Chances
Average TOI: 18:37
Even Strength Chance% Fwd Rank: 1/18
Even Strength Chance/60 Fwd Rank: 1/18
Qualcomp Fwd Rank: 8/12
OZ Start: 55.1%
Skinner was given sheltered minutes on the second line. He is still only 19 and is more known for his offensive skills so giving him tough minutes now wouldn't make much sense. Both Maurice and Muller knew that they had to put Skinner in a position he could succeed in and that meant he was bets fit on the second line with Tuomo Ruutu and Jussi Jokinen. That being said, Skinner did see some ice time along side Eric Staal this year too and with that comes tougher minutes. The coaching staff can deploy Staal in the offensive zone more, but they can't completely protect him because of his strong two-way game. This means that Skinner also played some tough minutes but he wasn't used in this role that often. The more sheltered second line is what best suits him as of right now in his career. This also means that I have higher expectations for him in terms of scoring chance production and thankfully, Skinner delivered in that category.
Scoring Chances by Season Segment
|Game #||TCF||TCA||SCF||SCA||Segment%||Team %|
TCF = Total scoring chances for, TCA = Total scoring chances against, SCF = Scoring chances for during segment, SCA = Scoring chances allowed during segment, Segment% = Scoring chance percentage during segment, Team% = Hurricanes scoring chance percentage during segment
Season Segment Line Graph
Skinner's injury happened at the worst possible time because he was playing his best hockey of the season during the 10-15 games before his injury. He was also producing points on top of that and God knows the Hurricanes could have used that during Kirk Muller's first month as head coach. You will also notice that the team's scoring chance average went down when Skinner was out of the lineup. There were obviously more factors going on which led to that but Skinner was performing head and shoulders above the team average for most of the season, so there is no doubting that he would have boosted the team's numbers a least a bit. Seeing how well Skinner played compared to the rest of the team is very impressive and it shows that he had a great season even if his point total was down from his rookie year.
I do think that the concussion brought down his counting numbers a little bit, but his scoring rate wasn't nearly as good as his rookie season either. This is partially because he shot at 14.4% during that season, which is generally unsustainable, but you can also see that he had a rough patch around the time that he came back from the concussion. He played well in the four games after he returned but it does look like he had a bit of a set-back in the ten-game segment after that. I am just speculating that it might have been lingering effects from the concussion because it easily could have been something else. It's just a little odd to see him outperform the team during almost every segment except that one, and he was pretty weak during that time too. An injury would be the most logical explanation but stranger things have happened.
The best thing about Skinner this season was his ability to jolt almost every line he was placed on.
Almost every player was on ice for more Carolina scoring chances when they were playing with Skinner, something that only very few players on the Hurricanes can say. LaRose, Sutter and Tlusty were the only forwards who didn't see their scoring chance percentage go up when they were playing with Skinner. LaRose is probably the most interesting because he was very good otherwise but I guess this is a case of two players that didn't mesh well together.They had a respectable scoring chance percentage despite not being as effective as other lines, though.
Another intersting observation here is Skinner's success with Eric Staal. Maurice put them together at the beginning of the season and the general consensus was that they didn't work together and that Skinner was a better fit with Jussi Jokinen & Jeff Skinner but it appears that he was very good with Staal, as well. Splitting those two up does make sense for depth purposes, though since having two scoring lines is crucial but Skinner playing on Staal's line doesn't seem like such a foreign idea after looking at these numbers. However, the chemistry that Skinner had with Jokinen & Ruutu was just ridiculous so it's hard to justify breaking up that line now.
It's easy to look at Skinner's goal total this year and be disappointed but a closer look at his season shows that this was anything but a sophomore slump for him. Skinner's ability to play well and carry most of the lines he was placed on shows great promise for his future and the kind of player he will develop into. He just needs to build up his strength a little and cut down on his antics between the whistles a little.