On Wednesday night, Carolina Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner was named the NHL’s rookie of the year at the league’s award ceremony in Las Vegas. He is the first player in franchise history to win this award.
Eight months ago, Skinner began his NHL career as the youngest player in the league. After an impressive start, he became the youngest NHL All-Star ever. Now, he is youngest player to win the Calder Trophy.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Skinner said after accepting the award. “It’s tough to describe the feeling of winning other than to say it’s quite an honor.”
Skinner’s production speaks for itself. He was first among rookies in points (63), second in assists (32) and third in goals (31). He was second on his team in goals and points, trailing only Eric Staal in those categories. Most importantly, Skinner plays his best when it matters most. 13 of his 31 goals came in the final period, more than any other Hurricane.
Coming off a disappointing 2009-10 campaign, the Hurricanes got back to their winning ways this year, finishing with 91 points in the standings. Much of Carolina’s newfound success can be traced to addition of Skinner, as the ‘Canes were 20-4-2 when their All-Star rookie scored.
A big part of what made Skinner’s rookie campaign so special was his ability to make those around him better. While he played on several different lines throughout the year, the 18-year-old center was always the adhesive that held together the group he skated with. Usually the veterans are the ones who make the younger players better. With Skinner, it was the opposite. Chad LaRose played arguably the best hockey of his career with Skinner feeding him the puck; the same can be said for Jussi Jokinen. Skinner brought out the best in his teammates, something very few teenagers have ever been able to accomplish in this league.
Skinner dethroned Hall of Famer Bobby Orr as the youngest player to be named the NHL rookie of the year.