Earlier today, the National Hockey League announced that Carolina Hurricane rookie phenom Jeff Skinner has been added to the 42-player roster for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. At the age of 18, Skinner will become the youngest All Star in league history.
Originally chosen to play in Saturday’s SuperSkills event, Skinner was selected as an injury replacement for the All Star roster. Already a fan favorite in Raleigh, the 2010 first round pick will get the chance to play in his first All-Star game in front of his hometown fans.
Skinner currently leads all rookies in points (40), assists (22), and ranks second in goals (18). Despite his inexperience, the Markham, Ontario native is tied for second in points on the Hurricanes, only trailing captain Eric Staal (23-26-49).
Beyond the stats, Skinner possesses an extremely high hockey I.Q., and plays the game with the intelligence of a man twice his age. He never takes a shift off, and plays hard on both ends of the ice. His fearlessness has paid off in the first half of the season, as the young center regularly stands up to players much larger than himself in an effort to create offense.
After receiving word that he will become an All Star, Skinner found the situation to be very surreal.
“It’s crazy. It goes by so fast, but also when you look back it seems so far away,” said Skinner. “It seems so much has happened that it’s sometimes too hard to bring it back in and sort of reflect. Even at the beginning of training camp I was sort of wondering if I was going to be back in Kitchener or make the team.”
One of Skinner’s biggest fans thus far has been his head coach, Paul Maurice.
“The only thing that tells you he is eighteen is the fact that he doesn’t have to shave,” Maurice said earlier in the season. “He’s a really gifted player and it’s his compete level that’s the difference.”
The addition of Skinner to the All Star roster left an opening in the SuperSkills event, which will be filled by Hurricane defenseman Jamie McBain.
Skinner joins fellow teammates Staal and goalie Cam Ward on the All Star roster. The game will be held this Sunday at 4 p.m.