Coming into the season, a lot of attention was focused on freshmen Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, PK Subban and Jordan Eberle. However, through the first six weeks or so it’s one Jeff Skinner who has stood out as the primary Calder hopeful. The seventh overall pick last June has six goals and 15 points through 15 games played, which not only leads all rookies in scoring, but is good for 14th overall in the league, tied with the likes of Pavel Dastyuk, Derek Roy, Dany Heatley, Joe Thornton, etc. It’s a small sample of games, but that’s still pretty heady company for a teenager to be keeping.
What’s more interesting than the counting numbers is the fact that Skinner isn’t being overly sheltered in Carolina thus far. He’s averaging about 13 minutes at even strength per game and he’s mostly playing against other top six forwards. He also has a zone start ratio of 47.1% so far, meaning he’s starting shifts more often in the defensive end of the ice. There’s a whole class of NHLers who are never able to take that step and yet Skinner is doing it competently at just 19-years old.
He’s marginally underwater in terms of possession thus far (-3.17/60 corsi) and his counting stats are bolstered by an above average on-ice shooting percentage at five-on-five (11.25%) that probably isn’t sustainable, so it’s unlikely he’ll continue to score at a point-per-game pace. That said, most kids his age are struggling to find their legs in favorable surroundings…if they make the NHL at all. Even if he falls off the pace eventually, these are some nice early indications for a guy who wasn’t even picked inside the top five.