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Rutherford: Skinner, Nash Can Make Team

Thursday, 07.15.2010 / 1:45 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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.

Paul Branecky
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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.





1 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
2 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
3 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
4 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
5 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
6 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
7 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
8 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79


E. Staal 79 21 40 -13 61
J. Skinner 71 33 21 -14 54
A. Sekera 74 11 33 4 44
A. Semin 65 22 20 1 42
J. Staal 82 15 25 2 40
J. Faulk 76 5 27 -9 32
N. Gerbe 81 16 15 -6 31
J. Tlusty 68 16 14 2 30
R. Nash 73 10 14 0 24
P. Dwyer 75 8 14 -2 22
A. Khudobin 19 14 1 .926 2.30
C. Ward 10 12 6 .898 3.06