logo

Skinner on his way

alt
Photo credit:Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
9 months ago
As impressive as it is that Stuart Skinner is a finalist for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year at tonight’s NHL Awards in Nashville, it’s even more of a credit to the Edmonton Oilers goaltender that he sees the nomination as a stop along the way, not a destination.
We know Skinner’s story, and it’s wonderful. At 24, he is the youngest of nine children raised by Sam and Sue Skinner in Edmonton. He was taken by the Oilers in the third round, 78th overall, of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Lethbridge of the WHL. After a 14-game cup of coffee over parts of two seasons with the Oilers, Skinner arrived in a big way this season.
Expected to be the backup to Jack Campbell this season, Skinner instead took the net from Campbell and went 29-14-5 with a 2.73 GAA and .914 save percentage – the 29 wins eclipsed the franchise record of 28 set by Grant Fuhr – in 50 appearances. That’s why he’s a finalist for the Calder Trophy with Seattle forward Matty Beniers and Buffalo defenceman Owen Power.
We know Skinner wasn’t as good in the 12 playoff games he got into as he was in the regular season. He’s acutely aware of that as well, but the award, voted on by the PHWA, isn’t based on post-season play. There’s no question how good he was over the course of those 50 regular season games. More important, to hear Skinner tell it, there’s more to come. This bump as a Calder candidate is just a starting point.

WHAT HE SAID

Apr 8, 2023; San Jose, California, USA; Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner (74) watches the puck during the second period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
“Very honored. Very grateful to be in the situation that I’m in,” Skinner told reporters in Nashville. “Looking back on the season, it’s awesome everything that happened, but it’s also motivating because I want to be just so much better than I was last year. I want to be able to get to the same spots that I’m at right now. I want to be able to be able to come to an event like this again.”
While Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid is a lock to win his third Harty Trophy, likely unanimously, and his fourth Ted Lindsay Award to go with the Art Ross Trophy and Rocket Richard Trophy he already won, I’m not sure how Skinner will stack up on PHWA ballots. He’d love to be the first Oiler to win the Calder, but it’s not his be-all and end-all.
“At the end of the day, you want to lift the Cup, right? So, there’s a lot of lessons learned this season, a lot of lessons learned in the playoffs,” Skinner said while taking questions alongside McDavid. “I’m excited to get to work in the summer here. 
“I think experience is the greatest teacher, right? So being able to get the experiences I had all year, I think is really going to move me forward in the summer. I know what I need to work on. I know myself a lot more. I know how the NHL is played, the speed and everything like that. It really makes me want to focus on playing at that level and trying to be the best I can be at that level. It’s a great spot for me to be in just mentally.” 

THIS AND THAT . . . 

When McDavid wins the Hart and the Lindsay tonight, it’ll come on the eighth anniversary of the Oilers selecting him first overall at the 2015 Entry Draft in Sunrise, Florida . . . at the bottom line, it doesn’t matter if McDavid is the unanimous choice among voters for the Hart for the second time in his career after doing it in 2021, but his 153 points is a career-high and is a whopping 30 points higher than his best previous total.

THE NATION NETWORK DRAFT COVERAGE

Stay tuned to the website, social media, and our YouTube page for extensive coverage of the NHL Entry Draft. From instance analysis from Nashville to quick updates from the event, we’ll have you covered on all things draft all week long.

Check out these posts...