It's that time of the year again. Rumors will be rampant over the next few weeks leading to free agency on both the free agent and trade front. In these posts we will assess the potential availability of the hottest names on the market, and see if the Stars could be a fit.
The next member of our potential future Dallas Stars is Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes. The Hurricanes have a crazy cap situation that eventually is going to need some tweaking if they want to build an NHL caliber defense or some depth up front. The most reasonable solution seems to be to shop Skinner to fill those needs.
The Jeff Skinner Story
Skinner is a young, talented, offensive forward. As an 18 year old rookie Skinner scored 31 goals three seasons ago thanks to a 14% shooting percentage. A minutes increase after his rookie season helped him maintain close to a 30 goal pace over the next two seasons despite a drop in shooting percentage.
One of the drawbacks of Skinner (aside from his size) is his defensive ability. That may still be the case, and the fact that he played four total minutes on the penalty kill all season suggests it is, but during the 2013 season Skinner faced a much higher degree of difficulty in minutes compared to the first two seasons of his career. The reason for that may be that 70% of his even strength minutes came with Jordan Staal, but Skinner performed very well despite the increase.
Normally a young player with the scoring pedigree of Skinner wouldn't be available. He may not actually be available, but given the composition of the Hurricanes roster it isn't overly difficult to envision a scenario where Skinner is shopped. The Hurricanes are paying their top five forwards about 32 million dollars in a league with a 64 million dollar salary cap.
They are still under the cap by eight million dollars as is, but that's if they stand pat. If they want to improve they can't stand pat. They have a mediocre farm system that took a significant blow thanks to the trade for Staal. The Hurricanes need to find some depth to be competitive, and dealing from their depth up front looks to be the path of least resistance.
Jordan Staal's contract shouldn't be moveable given how long it is. I almost said it isn't moveable, but Paul Holmgren proved that theory wrong. Eric Staal, at over eight million, could fetch something, but probably not enough to justify moving him. The Alexander Semin contract is unpleasant. Finally, how much can the Hurricanes expect for Tuomo Ruutu when he makes nearly five million per year? The most appealing combination of value in trade plus salary is Skinner.
Skinner is going to be anything but cheap. The deals I keep coming back to are the Jordan Staal, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, and Jason Pominville trades. If you're looking to find value for Skinner I think you're aiming for the midpoint of these four deals.
- The Sabres received 20 year old Johan Larsson, 23 year old Matt Hackett, a 1st round pick, and a 2nd round pick for Pominville, a 30 year old scorer with a year of control
- The Penguins picked up a good young roster forward in Brandon Sutter, a well-regarded defensive prospect in Brian Dumolin, and a top ten draft pick in return for a top notch 26 year old center with one year of control remaining.
- The Flyers received Jakub Voracek and a top ten pick (Sean Couturier) for Carter. They picked up Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, and a 2nd round pick for Mike Richards.
Two common threads pop up. Both young roster talent and top picks are involved. Realistically anyone looking to acquire Skinner is going to need to look at the Carter and Richards packages. One caveat to add is the Hurricanes pressing need for depth. Could they be persuaded to take one top asset and a few good young depth options instead of the two top assets acquired by Holmgren in the Carter and Richards deals?
The Stars are going to have to come out firing if they want to acquire a player like Skinner. Their best shot is if the Hurricanes seek one top asset and some good, but not elite. accompanying talent. The Stars have the top asset, the #10 pick, but would the Hurricanes want to center a deal around a pick?
Logic dictates that they would want the main asset to be a roster player. If that's the case the Stars are forced with the same dilemma that a potential Flyers deal presents: deal Brenden Dillon or move on to another target. The Hurricanes aren't accepting Trevor Daley as the top piece of a deal, and it seems unlikely that either team would have interest in swapping Alex Goligoski + for Skinner.
As interesting as it would be to see the Stars pursue a player like Jeff Skinner, I don't see the fit. His offensive ability is certainly a fit for what the Stars need, but as trade partners the two clubs are an awkward fit.