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Hurricanes have a decision to make on Jeff Skinner. Will he stay or will he go?

Hurricanes’ Skinner says all the players are disappointed about missing the playoffs

The Carolina Hurricanes Jeff Skinner said that every year the goal is to make the playoffs and the players are disappointed about not qualifying for the ninth straight year. He spoke with reporters in Raleigh on April 9, 2018.
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The Carolina Hurricanes Jeff Skinner said that every year the goal is to make the playoffs and the players are disappointed about not qualifying for the ninth straight year. He spoke with reporters in Raleigh on April 9, 2018.

Has Jeff Skinner played his last game for the Carolina Hurricanes?

Speculation continues to grow that Skinner, the Canes’ most consistent goal-scorer the past eight seasons, could be traded by the team. Adding a new twist is that Skinner has left longtime agent Rick Curran of the Orr Hockey Group and hired Don Meehan of Newport Sports Management.

The Hurricanes, after missing the Stanley Cup playoffs nine straight years, are open to making personnel changes and team owner Tom Dundon said some players might need a “change of scenery.” Speculation in the NHL has been that Skinner could be a player moved, with commentators such as TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Elliotte Friedman of SportsNet among the Canadian media saying the forward is being shopped by the Hurricanes.

Skinner, who turned 26 on May 16, has one year remaining on a six-year contract extension — negotiated by Curran in 2012 — that will pay him $6 million in 2018-19. The contract also includes a no-move clause that limits the Canes’ options.

“We have him for another year and that’s the way it remains,” Don Waddell, the Canes’ president and general manager, said Tuesday. “Jeff’s been a great player for our franchise. Certainly if there’s another fit someplace that makes sense for all of us we might explore it, but if not we know he’ll be a part of this group going forward.”

Meehan said Tuesday he has had no discussions with Waddell about Skinner or been asked by the Hurricanes to waive the no-trade stipulation. Meehan said he expected to meet with Waddell during the NHL scouting combine, May 27-June 2 in Buffalo, N.Y.

“I’ve known Don for a long time and I’ll get some indication from Don as to the direction of the club, in terms of what their direction is going to be concerning Jeff,” Meehan said, “We have another year remaining on his contract. We’re going to fulfill that obviously, but it depends really on what the club is going to convey to me in terms of their intentions.”

Skinner, the seventh pick of the 2010 NHL Draft, has been one of the team’s most popular players. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie in 2011 after scoring 31 goals. He has had three 30-goal seasons, with a career-high 37 in 2016-17, before dipping to 24 this past season.

Skinner and former Canes coach Bill Peters never seemed to mesh, with Peters wanting more defensive attention from the offensive-minded left winger and often placing him on the third line. But with Peters resigning April 20 after four seasons to take the Calgary Flames job, and Rod Brind’Amour named the Hurricanes' head coach, a better coach/player relationship seems possible.

On a team starved for goals, Skinner has scored 204 in 579 career games. He’s still a sniper. But he's never appeared in a playoff game, a source of frustration.

“I like it here, I want to win here,” Skinner said after the season, but also added, “You have to be open-minded to everything. That’s why you have agents and advisers.”

Skinner is due to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season.

Curran continues to represent Canes goalie Cam Ward and center Jordan Staal. Ward becomes a UFA on July 1 and Curran said Ward's preference is to stay with a franchise that drafted him in 2002, one he helped win the 2006 Stanley Cup.

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