Originally posted on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 11/30/11

After winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year last season, many people throughout the hockey world wondered if Carolina Hurricanes' forward Jeff Skinner would experience any kind of drop off in 2011-12. In 26 games this season, the answer would have to be a resounding NO.

Skinner currently leads the team in scoring with 22 points. At just 19 years old, Skinner is leading the Hurricanes in goals (10), assists (12), points (21) and game winning goals (3). Usually, these categories are led by Eric Staal, but with the captain struggling this season, Skinner has stepped up and has done all that he can for the Hurricanes' below-average offense this season.
There are several reasons why Skinner is continuing to have success in the NHL. The first would be his skating. Skinner, a former figure skater, is a silky smooth skater that has tremendous speed and balance, making him hard to catch and knock off the puck.

Secondly, Skinner has shown a willingness to throw pucks on net. Skinner has recorded 86 shots this season (second on the team) and is not afraid to go to the dirty areas for deflections and rebounds. The super sophomore has terrific vision. He always knows where his teammates are on the ice and is consistently able to get them the puck when they are open.

What has made Skinner so valuable to the Hurricanes this season is the time in which he scores goals. All 10 tallies have come when his team is trailing by one, tied, or leading by one, meaning he is making a positive difference in close games.

In 2010-11, Skinner racked up 31 goals and 63 points (as a rookie, I remind you). With 10 goals and 22 points through 26 games, he is on pace to surpass those numbers this time around.

When pundits expected him to hit a wall in his rookie year, Skinner proved doubters wrong. When everyone expected outside of Raleigh half-expected Skinner to suffer from a sophomore slump, he (so far) has proven those doubters wrong, too.

His game obviously is not perfect, but Skinner has certainly shown that last year's success was no fluke and that he is going to be a supremely talented NHLer for years to come.

Photo credit: Getty Images
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