A lot has been made of how Cam Fowler slipped in the first round last night, with opinions on both sides. But one thing I've heard pretty convincingly from everyone I've talked to (most of whom went out of their way to tell me) is that we got a real player at seventh overall.
TSN's Bob McKenzie, for one, had good things to say in a tweet last night:@TSNBobMcKenzie: Skinner to Canes. What's not to like about 70 goals incl 20 in 20 in playoffs? Steve Spott gives him Mike Richards seal of approval. I like.
Hockey Night in Canada's Jeff Marek, who said he has been watching Skinner since minor hockey, had plenty to to tell me about the newest Canes property:
"From a skill set point of view, Skinner is elite. He probably has the best hands in the draft. He competes hard every shift, and has a strong desire to win. When the puck is on his stick, it goes in. Period."
Skinner had a monster playoffs for his junior team, the Kitchener Rangers, as the Rangers gave the eventual Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires their toughest series.
"He was amazing for the Rangers this year," said Marek. "They almost knocked off the powerhouse Spitfires in the OHL semis mainly due to his play. He was intense. Thirty-three points in 20 playoff games. Twenty goals. Unreal."
Marek, who is a self-professed draft geek, believes Skinner could have actually gone higher in the first round.
"You could have made an argument for him going third. He played his minor hockey on a line with Tyler Seguin, and they were dominating as a pair. Skinner will bring Canes fans out of their seats for years. They will love this kid."
Having never seen Skinner play in person myself yet (we'll at least get to see him in practice gear in a few weeks at the rookie conditioning camp in Raleigh), all I can say for sure is that he seems like a great kid. He was over-the-moon happy of course, and handled all of his media duties in stride, especially the consistent ribbing about his figure skating past. His family is solid too: both of his parents are attorneys, and all I seemed to hear when meeting his siblings was a list of Ivy League schools.
I did explain to him what North Carolina barbecue was after he was posed a question about it on the media conference call (how is a kid from Canada supposed to know what NC barbecue is, anyway?), but nothing was wiping the smile off of Skinner's face. And if McKenzie and Marek are right, he'll be providing plenty of smiles of Caniacs too.