WINNIPEG - At 25 years old, Jeff Skinner is a skosh over the average age of the Carolina Hurricanes' roster.
Does that make him one of the "older guys"? Probably not. Again, he's just 25 years and nearly 5 months old.
But Skinner is somewhat of a veteran in the sense that, in his eighth NHL season, he is set to play in his 500th career game on Saturday night in Winnipeg.
"It's pretty cool," Skinner said after the morning skate. "You don't really think about every game going in what number it is. When you reach a milestone like that, it's pretty cool to reflect on it. It's the best league in the world, and it's special to be able to play in it at all. To play 500 games is pretty cool."
Video: Jeff Skinner: "You learn things every game"
Skinner's NHL career began overseas at the NHL Premiere series in Helsinki, Finland. On Oct. 8, 2010, it was his shootout goal that gave the Hurricanes their second straight win over the Minnesota Wild by a score of 2-1.
Since then, Skinner has scored 181 goals and has thrice recorded 30-goal seasons. In 2016-17, he posted a career-high 37 goals and equaled his career-high point total from his rookie season (63).
But it's not the game-winning glory or the accolades that Skinner takes with him from his first 499.
"Just being able to play with guys you grew up watching. Everyone you meet in the game from equipment staff to training staff to medical staff, they're all at the top of their professions. It's cool to learn from people like that and build relationships and friendships with people like that," he said. "The people you meet and the teammates you play with is probably the coolest part for me."
Video: CBJ@CAR: Skinner goes five-hole to even game late
For a kid who isn't even on the back-side of 25 yet, he should have many more games and years in this league ahead of him - the NHL and the Hurricanes will be better for it.
And maybe sometime in the near future we'll get a glimpse of playoff Skinner. That's yet to manifest itself in the NHL, but in Kitchener circa 2010, Skinner was a goal-per-game producer with 20 goals and 13 assists (33 points) in 20 playoff contests.
"I hope there are some more wins in there," Skinner said of the proverbial next 500. "I'd like to get into the playoffs. This year seems to have a little bit of a buzz and some excitement so hopefully we can get off to a good start on this road trip and build some momentum from there."