The Case For Jeff Skinner to the Rangers
It’s that time of year again, folks. Speculation, speculation, speculation! This is where hockey fans and pundits try to predict who goes where and what state-tax players will be paying when teams come knocking at their doors. There are many solid players on the market, the two marquee names being Erik Karlsson and Artemi Panarin. For the New York Rangers, this is arguably the most important offseason this franchise has faced in a long time. Blessed with the number two pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft and flexibility with the cap room they possess, New York is primed to add on the pieces needed to turn this club from rebuilder to Stanley Cup contender.
Obviously, the main target the Rangers should go after, and the option I’m 100 percent behind, is Artemi Panarin. The 27-year-old Russian winger is exactly what the Rangers need; a dynamic scoring winger who is still in his prime. Although the Rangers seem to be the favorites, there are other teams that may be able to entice the services of Panarin, those including Chicago and Florida. That being said, what route can the Rangers go if Panarin decides to sign elsewhere?
Enter Jeffrey Scott Skinner.
Now, before I begin, I’m aware I may get some heat from this, as I’ve made similar posts about Erik Karlsson becoming a Ranger and also one about wanting LA Kings winger Ilya Kovalchuk to sign with New York. Look, I can understand why Ranger fans want no part of those players, and some of the concerns are valid, but hear me out on this one.
Jeff Skinner was originally drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft going seventh overall. Burning up the OHL with a 90 point season with the Kitchener Rangers, Skinner became a highly sought out talent. Carolina did not regret making this pick, as he had many productive seasons, even when the injury bug came and hit him. Only missing 40 points twice in his time with Carolina, Skinner is a guaranteed almost 30 goals a season when healthy. Even after coming back from injury, Skinner has shown to be a consistent offensive threat on the ice.
Small, shifty and quick, Skinner has a natural knack for scoring goals. His skating ability is arguably one of his best traits, as he’s incredibly agile out there on the ice. Don’t forget, he is a trained figure skater and has used those skating abilities to his benefit on the ice. Add his tenacity to get the puck and his willingness to grind it out, Skinner is an underrated talent on the ice. His size and skating ability can benefit the offensive zone forecheck, as he can easily evade body checks in the corner. Add to that strong hands to move the puck around and a decent shot, Skinner would be a welcome addition to a Rangers team who is looking to get quicker and faster.
Also, Ranger fans have felt the wrath of Skinner as he’s lit the lamp against the Blueshirts numerous times, with ease.
Even after Skinner was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres, Skinner became the second player in team history to score 20 goals before December, and the seventh player to score at least 20 goals in less than 27 games. Also, still scored against the Rangers in his new sweater.
On April 6, Skinner scored twice in the season finale against the Detroit Red Wings, upping his total to 40 goals scored on the season, the first time in his career that he has reached that mark and it seems like the trend is going upward. If he’s surrounded by quality players, he’s a solid enough finisher to keep trending to that mark year after year.
He’s had many seasons in the NHL, tons of experience, a former captain, and he’s only 27 years old. He had a mini-renaissance with Buffalo and it seems as if that renaissance could continue when in the right spot.
So, what would be a good offer for Skinner? Obviously, he wouldn’t get Panarin money, but for less or similar to that type of contract, the services of Skinner could be something the Rangers should take a look at if Artemi Panarin goes elsewhere. This is not the worst possible idea and frankly, I think could benefit the Rangers for years to come, as Skinner is about as dynamic a scorer out there on the market. Considering the Rangers are going for speedy players with tons of skill and moxie, Skinner could be a solid complimentary piece for the youth to learn from and grow with.