For the fifth straight year, Jeff Skinner will end his NHL season without a playoff game.
Skinner's goal production dropped, from 33 last season to 18. He suffered his third career concussion.
But Skinner, 22, doesn't believe the season can be written off as a step back in his career or development.
"For me it was disappointing," Skinner said Monday. "I wouldn't use the term 'step back' because every season is one you can learn from. You have to go through a tough year sometimes to figure things out or learn lessons you wouldn't have otherwise.
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"For me it was an opportunity to learn and grow from. To go through stretches throughout the year and not be producing is frustrating, but you try to turn it into a positive experience by learning from it."
The Canes, after a 30-41-11 season, after another year out of the playoffs, could be in for a remake. Skinner, for one, realizes anything could be possible and on the table if there is an overhaul, including the trade of the 2011 Calder Trophy winner who is one of the team’s most marketable, popular players.
"It's tough to say," Skinner said. "Obviously that's the way the business works. Teams that don't make the playoffs rarely stay together.
"That's something for management to figure out. It's not something I think too much about because there's no control. It's something you have to be aware of because it's part of the business, and it could happen. But sometimes it's tough enough worrying about what you can control in this business and it's a little too much to worry about what you can't.
"It is what it is. If it happens … we'll see what happens."
Skinner had a tremendous preseason, with two goals and three assists before playing in the Canes' seventh and final exhibition game. He felt sharp, ready for the season.
"I had a good summer of training," he said. "I felt pretty good. It's frustrating to have that happen."
The concussion came when Skinner made a quick turn, taking a hit to the head from Matt Niskanen of the Washington Capitals. Once returning to the lineup, he scored three goals in his first 13 games and never had a hot streak, playing the last 18 games of the season without a goal despite getting off 48 shots (his 7.7 shooting percentage for the season was a career low).
Skinner has four years left on his contract at $6 million a year ($5.725 million cap hit) and said he does not have a no-trade clause in his contract until the final year. But he’s not looking to go anywhere.
“I love it here,” Skinner said. “I'd like to be a part of the good things that will happen here. We'll see what happens."