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Rutherford: Skinner, Nash Can Make Team

Thursday, 07.15.2010 / 1:45 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Rutherford: Skinner, Nash Can Make Team
Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford has said all along that he’ll give his young forwards every opportunity to make the team. That appears to be especially true with two of his most recent acquisitions: Jeff Skinner and Riley Nash.

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Following the team’s recent conditioning camp, which served to pleasantly confirm previously-held beliefs about the group as a whole, Rutherford believes those two will have an excellent chance to be with the Hurricanes when they open the 2010-11 season in Helsinki.

”At the conditioning camp, you could see a special skill level in certain players,” said Rutherford. “Clearly, Skinner and Nash were guys that really stood out. It wouldn’t surprise me if both of these guys made our team.”

Skinner, 18, was drafted seventh overall by the Hurricanes at June’s NHL Entry Draft. Nash, a bit older at 21 but a first-round pick himself, was acquired from Edmonton in exchange for a second-round pick one day later.

One of those players would likely take hold of the vacant third-line center spot, which will also be sought by the likes of Zac Dalpe and Jon Matsumoto. There’s also expected to be at least one spot open on the wings, where more experienced players like Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman will be looking to make their mark.

Yet another scenario has Jussi Jokinen centering the third line. If that were to occur, Rutherford said he expected the versatile Finn to remain a key offensive contributor on the power play in addition to his solid two-way play at even strength.

“It’s not like we’re in a situation where we’re not going to be able to cover our lineup,” said Rutherford. “When you look at the two natural centers that are really good ones in Staal and Sutter, after that it’s wide open for anybody.”

Of course, there’s still the small matter of whether or not Nash wants to pursue that opportunity at this time. Although the player said last week that he’s hoping for a quick decision about potentially leaving Cornell prior to his senior year, Rutherford said he’s not expecting to know anything in the next few weeks.

”It’s a decision that he has to make, but at the same time if a player is going to look at a depth chart and look at an opportunity to get your pro career started, this is about the best timing or opportunity that he or anyone else would have,” said Rutherford.

The confidence in Nash, Skinner and the rest of the team’s stable of young prospects has the Hurricanes remaining quiet on the free agent front for the time being. Rutherford said that he hoped to know more about the potential return of defensemen Brett Carson and Alexandre Picard in the coming days, that he’s still in touch with Tim Conboy and that he’s expecting to re-sign Justin Pogge quickly, perhaps even by the end of the day on Thursday.

In the case of Carson and Picard, Rutherford said that the one-way deals offered to each player prior to July 1 were no longer on the table following the signing of Joe Corvo, but that he would still consider bringing them back on two-way contracts.

“We wouldn’t be looking at one-ways at this point,” he said.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
K. Versteeg 63 11 22 -6 33
E. Staal 63 10 23 -3 33
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81