USATSI_8401180_154158418_lowresThere are generally two schools of thought involving the Carolina Hurricanes and Jeff Skinner. The first suggests that a trade is in order, that the 23-year-old from Ontario has lived out his usefulness in Carolina and needs to move along. The other school of thought favours a wait and see approach, suggesting that Skinner can once again regain his top form.

As we discussed in our look at the Carolina Hurricanes a couple days ago, Skinner is still considered a top-tier player in the National Hockey League. He may not function on the elite level of an Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby, but he has had two 30-goal seasons prior to his 23rd birthday and that seems to speak to something.

It’s reasonable to believe that there’s more to come for Skinner.

In his debut season in Carolina, he put up 31 goals in 82 games. He had a total of 63 points in 2010-2011 and finished with a plus-three rating. Six of his goals came on the power play and two were game-winners.

It’s probably not coincidental that the Hurricanes had one of the best seasons in recent years when Skinner debuted. They posted a 40-31-11 record with 236 goals for and 91 points overall. They didn’t qualify for the post-season, but Skinner did win the Calder Trophy in the same year that featured the debuts of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Tyler Seguin.

In 2011-2012, Skinner was good for 44 points in 64 games. He had four power play goals and five game-winners, still putting up solid digits. In 2012-2013, the season shortened by the lockout, Skinner scored 13 goals. By 2013-2014, he exploded with 54 points in 71 games. Skinner scored a career-high 33 goals, including 11 on the man-advantage and six game-winners. He fired the puck 274 times.

So what’s going on here? Are the Hurricanes out of their minds for shopping Skinner after a lacklustre 2014-2015? In a word, yes.

This is a player with tremendous upside and little to work with. While the likes of Eric Staal can dish the puck, the Hurricanes’ top centre has taken a dip in his own performance as of late.

The good news is that Carolina appears to be asking a lot for Skinner, as they should. They are a team in need of defencemen, but one has to imagine their scoring woes won’t be helped if they ditch one of the most gifted players on the roster. The Hurricanes came up with a dismal 188 goals last season.

It’s hard to imagine many teams offering what Carolina wants for Skinner and that’s a good thing. Coming off a bad season is never easy, especially in the reactionary NHL, but this is a very good and potentially great young player. Given time and room to grow, he could lead this franchise for years to come.

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