Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Stuart Skinner Ready to Become Regular NHL Goalie
By Jason Gregor1 year ago
Stuart Skinner’s life is about to change significantly. He is poised to become a father on January 12th. He and his wife are expecting their first child, a boy, and their son will be the 14th grandchild of Skinner’s parents. Skinner is the youngest of nine siblings, and family has always been his first priority, but becoming a regular NHL goalie has been his goal for years and today he finds himself poised to fulfill that goal.
Skinner knows he will be the backup to start this season, but his play will determine how many starts he makes and he’s ready for the challenge.
“I feel great. It was a very productive summer,” said Skinner. “I got to work with Chad (head strength and conditioning coach Chad Drummond,) and Joel (assistant strength and conditioning coach Joel Jackson,) off the ice, worked on nutrition and I got to skate with Schwartzy (goalie coach Dustin Schwartz) pretty well three or four times a week. I feel great coming into camp.
“I got a lot of experience in the AHL and a bit of experience up here. I’m just more comfortable. I’ve worked my way up. It has been a grind, and it has taken a lot of hard work. Knowing I’ve put in that work gives me confidence that I’m ready. I feel great mentally. I feel like it is a big challenge in front of me and I’m ready for that challenge. I can’t wait to get the ball rolling,” smiled Skinner.
Skinner’s development path has gone very much to plan thus far after being drafted 78th overall in 2017. His November birthday had him turn 19 five months after being drafted and that final year of junior was ideal as he was traded to Swift Current and won the Western Hockey League Championship.
He turned pro in the fall of 2018 and played 41 games in the ECHL and six AHL games. In 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 he played a total of 72 games in the AHL and became the starter. He made his NHL debut on January 31st, 2021 v. Ottawa. He picked up the win, but he allowed five goals. It was his only NHL appearance that year, but he felt he learned a lot about what he needed to work on from that lone appearance.
Last season he made 12 starts and posted a solid .913Sv% and 2.62 GAA in the NHL, and he won 22 of his 35 appearances in the AHL while posting a .920Sv% and stingy 2.21 GAA.
He feels he’s ready to be an NHL player and the organization does as well, as Skinner is locked in to be Jack Campbell’s backup.
“In previous years you come in and there are nerves, but this year is a little different just cause you’re more confident and comfortable. I know the guys a lot more. It feels like you’re in a better spot,” said Skinner.
He wants to build off his 13 appearances last season, and while 13 might not seem like much, Skinner was able to glean significant information from those minutes.
“Last year I learned a lot about how fast the game is, the pace of play,” he said. “I got to learn where my mistakes were made. Schwartzy and I looked on video after the season at the parts that were weaker and my strong areas. We put a plan together for the summer and worked on those plays. Also, for me being on the PK last year was a big thing to see how quick they made the plays, the east to west plays, and we worked a lot on that this summer.”
I asked Schwartz: What are Skinner’s best assets?
“I think his size, you can’t teach that,” said Schwartz. “He’s got a great presence in the net. He’s six foot four and thick. He takes up a lot of space in there.
“One of the things that he has spent on a lot of time on is his mobility and his skating. That has come leaps and bounds. It continues to be an area he strives to improve and that has helped him become better positionally. His awareness of the game and his reads and his goalie IQ, for lack of a better term, but his goalie IQ is very good. He sees things, he understands the game well and those are things I believe will help him transition to be a regular NHL goalie,” Schwartz said.
Skinner talked about his skating and the need to improve it.
“I feel for goalies it is a lot of edge work, a lot of post play,” Skinner said. “Just being able to recover. I know for me recoveries were a huge thing for my skating. Being able to make the proper turns to get in position. Positioning is key for goaltenders. I’m not the greatest skater so that’s why I’ve been working on it for such a long and I’m going to continue to work on it. It is definitely a huge asset in the goalie world now. It is massive.”
Skinner has also worked hard on the mental side of the game. One of his role models now is Ryan Holiday. “I love his views on stoicism, his books and I like watching how he talks on social media,” said Skinner.
Skinner was asked by Tony Brar: What is the number one thing that has changed the most for Skinner in the past few years?
“I honestly don’t know if there is one big thing,” replied Skinner. “I think it has taken a lot of work over the past four years to figure out, not only who I am as a person, but also as a goaltender and a teammate. Just growing as a human being would probably be the biggest thing. Just being grateful for every position that I’m in, and to focus on what needs to be done rather than worry about who is watching.”
Skinner is excited for what lies ahead. The joy of becoming a father and reaching fulfilling your dream of becoming a regular NHL player should make this the best year of Skinner’s young life.
- When: On Thursday, January 12th, we’re jumping on a flight at the Edmonton International Airport and making our way to Vegas. On Sunday evening, we’ll fly back from Vegas to Edmonton. So the dates that you need to block off for this trip are January 12th to 15th.
- Where we’re staying: After landing in LV, we’ll jump on the free shuttle and make our way to the Park MGM before settling in for a good night’s sleep. 😉
- What you get: Your roundtrip flight, hotel, shuttle, viewing party (Friday night), game entry — we got seats this time (Saturday night), and exclusive entry into our pre-trip ‘get to know everyone’ event.
- How Much: The total cost for the trip, flight, hotel, and entry to the game is $1499 per person (based on double occupancy)
- Tickets: Ready to dive in? Click this link.
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