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Skinner's Dream Season Continues

Wednesday, 01.26.2011 / 3:34 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Skinner\'s Dream Season Continues
Expectations of Jeff Skinner have been high ever since the Hurricanes drafted him seventh overall in June, but few could have imagined this.

Paul Branecky
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On Wednesday, the NHL named Skinner as an injury replacement to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, to be held in Raleigh this Sunday. The league had already selected him as one of 12 rookies to participate in Saturday’s SuperSkills event, but at 18 years and 259 days, he becomes the youngest player in any major sport to ever be able to call himself an All Star, beating the legendary Steve Yzerman’s 27-year-old record by just eight days.

From being drafted in the top 10 to scoring 40 points in the first half to playing in an All-Star Game in his home building less than four months into his professional career, it’s hard to imagine a better first half to a rookie season.

“It’s crazy,” said Skinner, speaking to media in New York ahead of the Hurricanes’ Wednesday night match-up with the Islanders. “It goes by so fast, but also when you look back it seems so far away. It seems so much has happened that it’s sometimes too hard to bring it back in and sort of reflect. Even at the beginning of training camp I was sort of wondering if I was going to be back in Kitchener or make the team.”

Skinner’s surreal feelings about playing in the All-Star Game come at a time when those of merely playing in the NHL have only recently begun to subside. Once terrified of bumping into locker-room neighbor Eric Staal as they prepared for games, he can now at least give grief to Cam Ward about his music selection in the locker room.

Still, when talking about how he plans to rely on four-time All-Star Staal for pointers surrounding the weekend, Skinner was still wary of overstepping his bounds. 

“I’ll sort of follow him around,” said Skinner. “He might get annoyed with me though.”

Although Skinner has taken his fair share of teasing from teammates throughout the season, he now joins Staal, Ward and Sergei Samsonov as the only members of the current Hurricanes roster to be selected to an All-Star Game. Skinner said that Staal, a team captain who will have an opportunity to draft Skinner to his team on Friday, had already taken advantage of his seniority.

“(Staal) asked me if I was going to be really loud in the room and get the guys going,” said Skinner. “I said, ‘I think I’ll just sit there. Silent.’”

"There’s still a little wide-eye in him," said Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice. "A lot of his hockey heroes are going to be in that room."

Speaking of the draft, Skinner, who is clearly just happy to be in the event, said he would be glad to take the heat off any player who was worried about earning instant infamy as the draft’s last pick.

“I would take it,” he said, laughing.

The possibility of Skinner playing in the game was raised in the days leading up to the announcement, as an ESPN report suggested that late injury replacements could come from the existing rookie allotment. However, like others the league has named as replacements in recent days, Skinner came from the league-wide pool of available players, regardless of age and experience.

To be mentioned in the same group as those players as an 18-year-old is truly remarkable, although he may get more and more accustomed to it as time goes on.

“I would think that this will not be his last All-Star Game,” said Maurice.

Skinner’s promotion led to more good news for the Hurricanes, as the league selected 22-year-old defenseman Jamie McBain to take his place in the SuperSkills event, which mixes 12 rookies in with those playing on Sunday.


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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
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81