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Skinner Credits Teammates for Calder Win

Wednesday, 06.22.2011 / 11:14 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
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Skinner Credits Teammates for Calder Win

For a guy who turned 19 just last month, Jeff Skinner acted his age Wednesday night for perhaps the first time this season. 

"You think about what you want to say if you win," Skinner was telling the assembled media backstage Wednesday after winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's outstanding rookie in 2010-11. "It was overwhelming ... Then I got a little nervous (during his acceptance speech), the audience was laughing when I was making a joke ... and I thought maybe I should have practiced my speech a little bit more."

No matter, Skinner softened the Pearl Theater crowd with his smile, having already won over thousands of teenage girls who voted on Seventeen.com for which of three John Varvatos designer suits he should wear at the NHL Awards. Scoring 31 goals and leading all rookies with 63 points boosted Skinner's profile, along with being the only first-year draftee among the three finalists -- San Jose's Logan Couture and the New York Islanders' Michael Grabner were the others.

Skinner made a point to credit his veteran teammates on the Carolina Hurricanes during his speech and media availability both for their guidance and their acceptance of a first-year pro on the final roster. Skinner played top-six forward minutes pretty much from the first game of his first NHL season. Not bad for a guy who said "I was just trying to make the team" -- words, by the way, that 20-year pro Nicklas Lidstrom used later in the night when talking to media about whether during his early career days he ever dreamed of winning seven Norris Trophies as the League's outstanding defensemen.

"The guys helped me so much to step up to their level," Skinner said of his Carolina teammates. "I learned it was important not to overthink what I was doing on the ice."

Skinner said he anticipated that the size and speed of the NHL game was going to be a challenge even after playing so well at the top junior level in Canada. Off the ice is where he learned the most, he said.

"As kids, you don't realize all of the travel that is involved during a long season," said Skinner. "You turn on the TV at 7 o'clock on a Saturday night and two teams are playing. You don't realize one of the two teams may have traveled a long way in short time to be there."

Skinner's youth likely swayed some voters who reasoned that Grabner was five years older and Couture was three years older with some 25 NHL games of experience prior to this season. His youthful charm certainly caught the attention of female fans under 21, especially during a breakout weekend as a member of the NHL All-Star Team Staal squad this past February in Raleigh.

If possible, Skinner's smile was even wider backstage, making fun of his own acceptance speech, which wasn't nearly as long or awkward as Skinner thought. The 19-year-old was stellar thanking his siblings and parents, plus his junior teammates and coaches. His demeanor turned veteran-level serious once he started discussing Carolina's prospects for next season.

"I have a ton to improve on," Skinner said. "I plan to get stronger and faster for next season. I want to help our team get better."

Spoken more like a seasoned pro rather than a teen sensation.

Author: Bob Condor | NHL.com Editor-in-Chief

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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