The Rangers have the tenth overall pick in the draft, and while some writers think the Rangers will draft a goalie (for some unknown reason), the Rangers most pressing need at the NHL level is a scorer. In the fourth installment of this series (Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Johansen, Vladimir Tarasenko), we look at a young center playing on the Kitchener Rangers (OHL), Jeffrey Skinner.
The 5’10 195 lb center has put together a solid season with Kitchener, putting together a line of 50-40-90, with 72 PIMs in 64 GP during the regular season, and 20-13-33 with 14 PIMs in just 20 playoff games. Skinner, currently ranked #9 in the ISS top 30, established himself as one of the top snipers in the OHL this year, and finished this season with more goals than both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, the projected #1 and #2 picks in this year’s draft. Skinner’s ability to lurk in the offensive zone and capitalize on opportunities certainly helped him become this dangerous in the OHL. A very intelligent player, Skinner also excels at playing a two-way game in the OHL.
Despite the fact that he finished with more goals than Hall and Seguin, Skinner has a lot of doubters, and an equal number of questions coming his way. He can score, but his skating ability, particularly his speed, is constantly being called into question. However, his strength on his skates and his agility definitely make up for his lacking speed at this level. He finds open ice in the OHL with relative ease, but will struggle at the next level unless he becomes a faster skater. Also, like most small forwards, there is always a question of his ability to adjust to the physicality of the NHL game.
Skinners coach compares him to Mark Recchi (Insider Only):
“Recchi is still in the league because of his skating and his strength, and Jeff is a Recchi-type player for me. He’ll have the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup because of the way he plays.”
Recchi is one of the best forwards to play this game, netting over 500 goals and almost 1,500 points, so if Skinner turns out like that, any team that drafts him will be thrilled. But to meet that potential, he is going to have to work on his skating, while continuing to put the puck in the net. His shot is his meal ticket, which might just get him into the top ten.
Photo Credit: Walt Dmoch, OHL Images