‘The sky’s the limit:’ Oilers legend Grant Fuhr says Stuart Skinner is ready for a big playoffs, bright future in the NHL

Photo credit:Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
28 days ago
There might not be a bigger fan of Grant Fuhr than Stuart Skinner.
He’s watched all the YouTube highlights of Fuhr’s glory days with the Edmonton Oilers, during which he won five Stanley Cups. After all, it’s hard not to, given that both are local products, with the roots of their hockey careers starting in the Edmonton and area’s minor hockey ranks.
Over the years, the pair have grown close, Fuhr told Oilersnation in an interview set up through Betway Canada.
“We’re friends, so I think that’s the great part,” said Fuhr, who has spent the last two years working as a colour commentator for the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds. 
Nowadays, when he isn’t busy calling those games, he’s keeping up on the play of Skinner and the Edmonton Oilers. While he, like so many, saw the struggles of both the netminder and the team early in the season, he’s also seen a big rebound.
“Stuart’s been great,” he said. “Yeah, fans were down on him a little at the start of the year, but he had such a good year last year, I think expectations were sky-high. The start of your second year is always your hardest year, and he had a little bit of a struggle at the start of the year.”
Through Skinner’s first 10 starts of the year, leading up the when the Oilers replaced Jay Woodcroft with Kris Knoblauch, his game was far from where it needed to be. He posted a 3-5-1 record, a .876 save percentage and a 3.27 goals-against average. All the blame can’t be laid on Skinner’s skates, as there were fundamental issues in the Oilers’ game over that time, but his -5.75 goals saved above expected showed he could’ve been doing more to keep them in some of those matches.
Ever since, Skinner has been one of the best goalies in the NHL with a 27-8-3 record. Among goalies with over 10 games played, his .917 save percentage ranks tied for sixth, his 2.36 GAA ranks eighth, while his 22.13 goals saved above expected rank fourth in the league.
In the eyes of Fuhr, Skinner is poised for a big performance in the playoffs.
“He’s found his game, he’s found his confidence, and I think he’s going to have a great playoffs this year,” he said. “I think that’s the one thing I tend to read still, everybody is worried about what he’s going to be like in playoff time. I think he’s going to be fine.
“I think it’s a matter of confidence going into the playoffs, and he’s playing great hockey right now.”
And when it comes to his future in the NHL, Fuhr sees big things on the horizon.
“I think the sky’s the limit,” he said. “He’s a big man with a lot of talent, and he’s got a great self-belief. I think anytime you put those three attributes together, there’s no ceiling. He’s going to be as good as he wants to be and he’s got that kind of potential.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.


Check out these posts...