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Canes GM Jim Rutherford: 2010 draft pick Jeff Skinner could make the NHL this year

Sep 13, 2010, 2:43 PM EST

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GYI0060880652-jeffskinner-bennett-getty.jpgYesterday we looked at 2010 first round pick Erik Gudbranson’s chances of cracking the Florida Panthers lineup and today the focus turns to another team in the Southeast Division and their top pick from 2010. Carolina’s Jeff Skinner has been doing his best to show his skills in the Traverse City Tournament, but Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told Canes Now’s Chip Alexander that he believes Skinner could crack the Canes’ NHL roster this year.

“The roster spot is there for him,” Rutherford said. “He has to compete with several other players, but the way he’s trained this summer, and with his strength and conditioning work with Gary Roberts, he’s very advanced for his age from a strength and conditioning standpoint.

“Everyone knows his skill level. It’s a matter of how well he adapts to the tempo of training camp and the games, and it is quite a change from junior hockey. But he’s put up a lot of points (in junior) and certainly has a lot of things going for him.”

Skinner was a fast-riser in the 2010 draft and landing with Carolina at the seventh overall selection shows what the Canes thought of his skill set. There’s no doubt that there’s potential to crack the Hurricanes lineup. After Eric Staal and Brandon Sutter, there’s room for improvising and competition at the center position with Zach Boychuk and other young players.

The fact that Skinner has been doing his conditioning work with Gary Roberts is startling though as Roberts’ workouts are the things of legend in their intensity. An 18 year-old kid going through with that in an effort to be ready for the season is remarkable. If Skinner is the real deal, he’d be a huge boost to a Canes offense that could struggle not having Ray Whitney who departed as a free agent.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett – Getty Images)

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