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Jeff Skinner early ROY? Now nominated!

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http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=545983

MacDonald explains how Hurricanes got their manMonday, 12.13.2010 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer 14

Share It didn't take veteran scout Tony MacDonald very long to formulate an opinion on Jeff Skinner the first time he laid eyes on him in the fall of 2009.

MacDonald, currently in his fourth season as director of amateur scouting for the Carolina Hurricanes, was doing what he normally does that time of the year -- catching up on a few of the big names in the Canadian Hockey League before heading back to his home base in Guelph, Ont.

At the time, MacDonald began his eight-month crusade to find the best possible players available in the 2010 Entry Draft, traveling throughout Canada, the United States and Europe, he had no idea where the organization would be selecting. At that time, it made no difference.

Eventually, though, the Hurricanes ended up with the seventh selection, where they surprised a few onlookers by drafting Skinner.

MacDonald recently spoke to NHL.com to offer a behind-the-scenes look at what sold him that player at that spot.

"I've worked with (Carolina general manager) Jim Rutherford since our days in junior with the Windsor Spitfires (in the early 1980s), so I have a long-standing relationship with him and have a pretty good idea what we're looking for as an organization," MacDonald told NHL.com. "We've always tried to draft the best player available in the first round regardless of position or need. That's been our philosophy for a long time and it's the best approach."

When MacDonald first reviewed Skinner, he recalls jotting down the words, "high compete level," "fun," and "energetic." Anyone who has watched Skinner in his rookie season with the Hurricanes can certainly attest to those traits.

"He has fun playing the game and there's not enough of that in today's players," MacDonald said. "But along with that he has a tremendous competitive drive and great hockey sense that matches his skill, creativity and vision -- that makes him such a great player."

It wasn't until MacDonald witnessed Skinner's relentless motor in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, however, that he decided this was the player the franchise needed. Skinner played a big part in helping lead the Kitchener Rangers to the conference finals against the Windsor Spitfires, where they lost in seven games to the eventual OHL and Memorial Cup champions. In 20 postseason games, Skinner had for 20 goals and 13 assists.

"A pretty significant clip for any player in the playoffs and that, in part, had a great influence on our thinking," MacDonald said. "That playoff performance he had was what tipped the scales."

In the days leading up to the Draft, MacDonald recalls having the same feeling about Skinner that he had prior to the team drafting current Carolina captain Eric Staal in 2003.

"Finding a goal scorer and guys who are offensively productive are hard to come by," MacDonald said. "I know defensemen and goalies are integral parts of any team, but I think it's really, really hard to score goals in the NHL today. We weren't a very high-scoring team and I just felt (Skinner) scores, competes and produces … and does it under pressure in the big games."

He said that while Staal and Skinner aren't the same type of player, they have some things in common -- a tremendous desire, drive and will to make a difference.

"It wasn't a tough decision," MacDonald said. "We were hoping that Jeff would be available at (No. 7) because he was the guy that we wanted. But you're never sure you're going to get the player you want until it comes up. We were fortunate he was there."

MacDonald knew it would be a tough transition for Skinner, but always knew there was a chance he'd be able to produce from the start at the top level.

"We were hoping and thought there was a chance he'd be able to play if he was moved to wing and that's what happened," MacDonald said. "He's the type of player who fits in with good players; they make him better and he helps make some of them better."

The pressure on today's young players is something MacDonald believes comes with the territory.

"Pro sports are different today than in the past and there's more exposure now and the spotlight is on these kids at a young age and they have to perform," MacDonald said. "There's pressure, but that's all part of the process. The players who can step up and emerge as premier players under those conditions are the ones who'll succeed. It's not easy for all the kids to handle, but they've accepted it as part of the process and part of becoming a professional player. I guess it's the price you pay along the way."

MacDonald, who recently concluded a 12-day stay in Europe, doesn't believe this year's draft is as deep as the previous few seasons.

"I think everyone will have to work a little harder and dig a little deeper," he said. "At first glance, it doesn't look like it's going to be as good a draft as last year but it's still early. It's easy to separate those top three to four guys, and after that there are some who will fall off the pace a little bit and others who haven't yet been recognized who will work their way up the rankings. There could turn out to be some interesting surprises."

Much like Skinner, who was rated 34th among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings but deemed one of the top North Americans by MacDonald.

"Not too many players fall through the cracks anymore, but there's a lot of satisfaction to be derived from players who are under the radar a bit and then come to the front and become better players in the pro ranks," MacDonald said. "That, to me, is what makes the draft so much fun for everyone involved."

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Yeah think it is an undisclosed injury with Sutter- thursday in the 3rd period Sutter got hit hard into the Boards, and grabbed his shoulder, and went to the bench, and watched him on the bench in alot of pain and Freisen coming over and trying to massage it- So think it wasn't new and something there before.Hope he gets better soon, we need him

Well As suspected last month- sutter WAS injured and canes just hid it- feel much better about his play now that been disclosed an injury had slowed him and not just a "slump"

Brandon was significantly injured," Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "It's a credit to him that at such a young age he decided he was going to play with it.

"Young players kind of set their pain threshold early in their careers - what they're willing to play with and what they have to play with. He was hurting and he played through it and now he's feeling pretty strong."

Read more: http://www.newsobserver.com/2010/12/18/868935/sutter-cousins-closer-in-carolina.html#ixzz18TUfbSkn

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Well figure with the 1/2 way point here for season( most have played 40+ games) and a slow week time for an update on the Rookie of Year race:

Skinner still leads in points( 28) and assists(17) and 3rd in goals(11)...

http://www.nhl.com/ice/rookies.htm#?navid=nav-ply-rkies

i'd say he is still the leading Candidate for the Calder, with logan couture moving up quickly and ander's linback making a strong showing for nashville in goal to be in the talks with "bob" from philly... think this race will go on all year with no clear cut favorite. Good to see Skinner still doing well

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I'm kinda surprised he's still out front, because of these slow stretches where he isn't scoring any points. But he seems to make it up with points in clusters of 2 or 3 at a time.

Nature if rookies to have the big scoring swings and not scoring streaks.. though some more '3" point clusters works for me like last night... Also tripp made a good point last night( see even the blind squirrell DOES find an acorn every once in awhile!), about Couture, having played 20+ games last year and 1 period from not qualifying for the Calder, never liked how they allow a player so much time and still be called a rookie, or carlson on washington having all the playoff games that also don't count to still be a "rookie"

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Nature if rookies to have the big scoring swings and not scoring streaks.. though some more '3" point clusters works for me like last night... Also tripp made a good point last night( see even the blind squirrell DOES find an acorn every once in awhile!), about Couture, having played 20+ games last year and 1 period from not qualifying for the Calder, never liked how they allow a player so much time and still be called a rookie, or carlson on washington having all the playoff games that also don't count to still be a "rookie"

I wonder if any voters will consider that if it's close? Give it to the real rookie type of thing.

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When you look at the list of top rookies, most are already 21 years old.

Yep, he and taylor hall the young 'uns.. And was suprised to see cam fowler #2 in assists(15).. he was the guy I wrongly Originally wanted at #7,So good to see him also doing well, and very glad I was wrong and skinner the better and real deal pick

Edited by canes-in-7

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I attended Sunday's game and I found myself looking for 53 every time he entered the ice. He sure can handle the puck and make moves that only Samsonov seems to have at times. A website that often talks about Hurricanes hockey is Triadsportsdaily.com and I find to have good insight into the team and its strengths and weaknesses. Check it out. Mike

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Watching NHL on the Fly and Logan Couture took a bad knee on knee hit from Colton Orr. If Couture is out for a while it will help Skinners chances but that's not exactly the way I'd like to see him move ahead.

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If Couture is out for a while it will help Skinners chances but that's not exactly the way I'd like to see him move ahead.

I don't even count him in the race, because last year, he played like 25 regular season games and 15 playoff games... he was like 1 game way from not being a rookie this year... I know it makes him eligible, but Skinner imo is more of a true rookie then Couture. Let me state though he hasn't been any less impressive because of that... just seems like an unfair comparison in experience.

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Well, I see ESPN has changed their tune for ROY.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/3508/burnside-lebrun-midseason-awards

Burnside and Lebrun are picking as their mid-season ROY choices are:

Cam Fowler and Logan Couture, though they say that they feel Taylor Hall will end up with the award at the end of the season. :coverears:

Calder Trophy

Burnside's pick: Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks

Why: This may be the toughest rookie race in recent years because so many first-year players are making significant contributions to their teams, whether it's Jeff Skinner in Carolina or Logan Couture in San Jose or Derek Stepan for the New York Rangers. But right now, we give the nod to Anaheim's stellar young defenseman Cam Fowler. The 19-year-old has made the jump to the NHL after just one year of major junior hockey and ranks seventh among all rookies in scoring (21 points). He leads all rookies in average ice time per night and has played a significant role in the Ducks' surprising bid for a playoff spot. Remember when everyone predicted the Ducks' shaky blue line would lead to a long season defensively? The Ducks rank an impressive 12th in goals allowed per game, and Fowler's impressive maturity is a key part of that improvement.

LeBrun's pick: Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks

Why: We have a feeling Taylor Hall will end up winning this in June with a monster second half, but I'll take leading rookie goal scorer Couture at the midpoint. Hopefully, the injury he suffered Tuesday night from a knee-on-knee hit by Toronto tough guy Colton Orr doesn't knock him out too long. On a disappointing Sharks team, Couture has been the club's most consistent performer this season.

Edited by hopper915

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I could bite on Couture, goals are more impressive then Skinners assists unfortunately.

Fowler? He's a -7....not impressive at all. He's got 23 points but how much is his offensive upside doing them any good when he's on the ice for more goals against then he put's up.

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i agree with legend on the fowler thing, but have to disagree with all due respect and go for skinner over couture. yes, couture is leading in goals, but first off, imho he is not a rookie. if its 1 period between him being a rookie or a sophomore, you are pretty much like the 12 year old kid playing y basketball with the 10 year olds (yes, my first coach thought the other team wouldn't notice the kid a foot taller and could touch the rim flat footed :facepalm:

if you have more points, you are contributing more to the team. you got a point because you helped someone else score. goals are nicer to watch on the utubes, but overall the points are more important to the team. he leads in points as of right now by a margin of 5. he is second in goals and chasing first place by a margin of 4 and second in assist and only behind by 1. he is holding his own in our end. he has a =/- of 0. he is being played regular minutes, regular shifts, and is keeping up with the big boys. full grown men. you have seen him get knocked around and abused and get right up and go back for more. he literally reminds me of a terrier, or better yet a ferret going after a rodent.

he might not be the next great one, but he will be an elite superstar forward, and he hasn't even got done growing up. just think a few years from now, when he has grown up. mr.gary roberts likes him, and that is a big check mark in my book. i will not compare him to other players, because that is not fair to him. he and everyone else that plays has their own style. they might borrow a bit from others, and that influences them to some degree, but each player has to bring his own brand of hockey to the table, or they don't play hockey in a professional capacity.

i got my stats hereanyways, im off toi write a tutorial for voice comms during games :D

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...Couture, having played 20+ games last year and 1 period from not qualifying for the Calder, never liked how they allow a player so much time and still be called a rookie, or carlson on washington having all the playoff games that also don't count to still be a "rookie"

Well, Washington/Carlson didn't have very many playoff games last year, y'know. :D (had to be said)

re: Fowler...I think this comes from being a dman, knowing they usually take longer to develop but he is making the jump and playing decently. But with that +/- he's probably not going to make it in the end.

Couture...I have to think if it's close, his "one period away" status will play against him.

Based on things right now I'd be surprised not to see Skinner win it.

Help refresh my memory...who votes on the Calder? And isn't there some sort of formula for ranking the rookies combining stats categories?

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Some extra info:

To be eligible for the award, a player cannot have played any more than 25 games previously in any single season, nor have played in more than six games in each of two separate preceding seasons in any major professional league. The latter fact was perhaps most prominent when in 1979–80, first-year phenom Wayne Gretzky was not eligible to win the Calder Trophy despite scoring 137 points (the previous rookie record at the time being 95), because he had played a full season the previous year in the World Hockey Association. The trophy has been won the most times by rookies from the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have won it on nine occasions.

The voting is conducted at the end of the regular season by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and each individual voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL Awards ceremony after the playoffs.

Edited by hopper915

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well, i would think that the overlooked and out of the blue pick at the draft after he had been ranked so low/ 18 years old/ real rookie playing for the first time in the nhl/ was thrown over the boards first game in the ot-shoot out and scored/has undressed some of the best goalies...

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Well, I see ESPN has changed their tune for ROY.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/3508/burnside-lebrun-midseason-awards

Burnside and Lebrun are picking as their mid-season ROY choices are:

Cam Fowler and Logan Couture, though they say that they feel Taylor Hall will end up with the award at the end of the season. :coverears:

Calder Trophy

Burnside's pick: Cam Fowler, Anaheim Ducks

Why: This may be the toughest rookie race in recent years because so many first-year players are making significant contributions to their teams, whether it's Jeff Skinner in Carolina or Logan Couture in San Jose or Derek Stepan for the New York Rangers. But right now, we give the nod to Anaheim's stellar young defenseman Cam Fowler. The 19-year-old has made the jump to the NHL after just one year of major junior hockey and ranks seventh among all rookies in scoring (21 points). He leads all rookies in average ice time per night and has played a significant role in the Ducks' surprising bid for a playoff spot. Remember when everyone predicted the Ducks' shaky blue line would lead to a long season defensively? The Ducks rank an impressive 12th in goals allowed per game, and Fowler's impressive maturity is a key part of that improvement.

LeBrun's pick: Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks

Why: We have a feeling Taylor Hall will end up winning this in June with a monster second half, but I'll take leading rookie goal scorer Couture at the midpoint. Hopefully, the injury he suffered Tuesday night from a knee-on-knee hit by Toronto tough guy Colton Orr doesn't knock him out too long. On a disappointing Sharks team, Couture has been the club's most consistent performer this season.

CRYING SHAME lebrun doesn't even give the leading points, goal and assist leader a mention.. now THAT's bias!

I could bite on Couture, goals are more impressive then Skinners assists unfortunately.

Fowler? He's a -7....not impressive at all. He's got 23 points but how much is his offensive upside doing them any good when he's on the ice for more goals against then he put's up.

I dont like Couture is really a 2nd year player( 1 period from missing calder), and if its "close" you go with the real rookie, IMO

And agree about the "-" on Fowler, but as "D" the Hardest position to break in as a rookie, do give him big props for a big rookie season, despite the "-" number

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