Canes Now

Jeff Skinner might make the playoffs someday, but will it be with the Hurricanes?

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.

Jeff Skinner is gaining a better appreciation for former teammate Ron Hainsey and what he experienced for much of his NHL career: that is, life without playoff hockey.

Hainsey led the NHL in that dreaded category — most games played without a playoff appearance — until last season. Traded by the Canes to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the veteran defenseman not only went to the playoffs but won a Stanley Cup ring with the Pens. It was like waiting forever, then winning the lottery.

“Everyone sort of has their own path and own career,” Skinner said Monday. “He obviously had a good year last year. But, yeah, it’s no fun to not be in the playoffs. It’s disappointing, It’s frustrating.”

Hainsey had played 907 games, 300 with the Hurricanes, when the 2017 Stanley Cup playoff began. For Skinner, the number is 579 games in eight seasons, enough to make him the “most-without” leader.

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Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian was ahead of Skinner in games played but had hip surgery in January. Forward Evander Kane, with 574 games, will soon make his playoff debut with the San Jose Sharks after his trade from the Sabres this season.

It took a trade to get Hainsey and Kane to playoff teams. Might it take that for Skinner?

Skinner, 25, has one year remaining on a six-year, $34.35 million contract extension signed in August 2012. He also has a no-movement clause, he said, which would limit the Canes’ options.

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner (53) gets off shot against Winnipeg in 2018 game at PNC Arena. Chris Seward

Skinner was asked Monday if he has ever been asked to waive the no-move clause by management.

“Not specifically,” he said. “I have been asked, but not specifically. For me, that’s what you pay your agents to do, so they will handle that.”

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During his Monday question-and-answer session with the media, team owner Tom Dundon said there likely will be players leaving the team. He didn’t drop any names other than forward Sebastian Aho, who appears to be the only “untouchable” on the team.

“The more likely scenario for us is to look at all of our players and decide if they fit here or do they need a change of scenery,” Dundon said.

Tom Dundon, the majority owner of the Carolina Hurricanes, said it was obvious that the team needed to play better this past year as he spoke at the end of the season press conference at PNC Arena in Raleigh on April 9, 2018.

Could Skinner be one of those players? He had his goal production drop from a career-high 37 in 2016-17 to 24 this season, the left wing spending much of the time on the third line with various centers and wingers.

Much was made Saturday about goalie Cam Ward, ending his 13th season with Carolina, possibly playing his last game as a Hurricane in the 3-2 overtime win over Tampa Bay at PNC Arena. But what about Skinner? Was that ever on his mind Saturday, that it might be his last?

“You never know, really, going into any offseason,” he said. “You never know when it could be your last game.”

Skinner, as he has in recent interviews, again said he is committed to playing for the Hurricanes and getting them back into the playoffs.

“I like it here,” he said. “I want to win here. I think we’ve got a good group here.”

Moments later, answering another question, he said, “You have to be open-minded to everything. That’s why you have agents and advisers, to help you work through those kind of things.”

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Skinner and Canes coach Bill Peters don’t always see eye-to-eye, it appears, Peters wanting more attention to detail defensively from a offensive-minded player who as a career-worst minus-27 at even strength this season.

Asked about possible tension between the two, Skinner said, “I don’t now if there’s tension. My goal is to win games and his goal is to win games. You try to do your best as a player to help the team win, and he puts the team together the way he thinks is best-suited toward winning games.

“For me, there’s no tension. I think our goals are the same.”

Their goals might be the same but only Dundon may know for now if they’ll be on the same team next season.