Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes forward, raises trade value ahead of roster freeze

With nine goals, including a pair of hat tricks, in his last seven games, Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner's trade value has never been higher this season, and GM Ron Francis is said to be looking to move him. The NHL's holiday roster goes into effect at midnight local time.

NHL teams can't deal players from Dec. 19-27

The Hurricanes' Jeff Skinner, middle, skates around Flyers forward Brayden Schenn, left, during Tuesday night's 4-3 overtime loss in Philadelphia. Skinner scored all three Carolina goals, his second hat trick in three games, to give him nine goals in his last seven contests. However, Hurricanes GM Ron Francis is said to be looking to trade the 23-year-old. Perhaps he'll make a move before the NHL's roster freeze goes into effect at midnight local time on Saturday. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

In Jeff Skinner's world, perhaps the "Christmas rush" is about piling up points in hopes of getting dealt before the NHL's annual holiday trade freeze.

How else do you explain the Carolina forward's recent tear that has produced nine goals, including a pair of hat tricks, in his last seven games at a time when it's been reported Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis would like to move the 23-year-old Toronto native.

Francis might want to pounce while Skinner is in a groove, having climbed to fourth in team scoring with 14 goals and 17 points in 31 games this season, as the roster freeze goes into effect at midnight local time Saturday until midnight local time on Dec. 27.

During that time, players on NHL active rosters or injured reserve can't be traded, waived or loaned. However, teams can sign players or call up players from the American Hockey League should a roster spot become available.

"His compete is very good, he's on the puck, he's taking it to the net and paying a price offensively," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters told reporters after Skinner's third NHL hat trick and second in three games in Tuesday night's 4-3 overtime loss to Philadelphia.

Skinner was a much different player during the first six weeks of the season when he had three goals and four points in 15 games. That pace would have put Skinner far below his output in 2011 when he was named NHL rookie of the year after scoring 31 goals and 63 points.

He dipped to 44 and 24 points in each of the next two seasons, signed a six-year deal with an annual average value of $5.725 million and rebounded with a 33-goal, 54-point campaign in 2013-14 before mustering just 34 points in 77 games last season.

But it's not Skinner's production but rather his contract status – three years after this season at close to $6 million per – that might scare away teams. The five-foot-11, 200-pounder has also suffered three concussions in his NHL career.

Other players rumoured to be available:

Matt Duchene, C, Colorado: After a slow start to the season, the 24-year-old posted 10 goals and 17 points during an 11-game stretch in November after hearing his name in trade rumours. Duchene, who has 28 points this season, has three years left on a contract that pays him $6 million annually.

Travis Hamonic, D, NY Islanders: Solid blue-liner (plus-5 in 33 games) reportedly requested a trade to a team in western Canada in mid-November for family reasons, but Islanders general manager Garth Snow has yet to pull the trigger. Hamonic, 25, has four years left on his contract with a team-friendly annual salary cap hit of $3.857 million.

Ryan Johansen, C, Columbus: Blue Jackets GM Jarko Kekalainen is believed to be fielding offers for the 23-year-old who had 63 points and 71 points in each of the previous two seasons. That Columbus is last in the Eastern Conference, Johansen has only six goals in 31 contests this year and is said to have had problems with recently hired head coach John Tortorella — he was benched for the third period of Tuesday's 5-1 loss to Dallas and was a healthy scratch Thursday at Arizona — might lead to a move.

Marcus Johansson, LW, Washington: The Capitals are first in the NHL so why move a 25-year-old, top-six forward coming off a career season? Well, teams are said to be calling Washington and might make an offer GM Brian MacLellan can't refuse. Johansson, who is making $3.75 million, is a restricted free agent after this season.

Eric Staal, C, Carolina: If not Skinner, perhaps Hurricanes GM Ron Francis would move the 30-year-old Staal, who carries a $8.25 million salary cap hit before he's eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1. At six-foot-four, 205 pounds, Staal would bring size and playoff experience (43 points in 43 games) to a small team like the Montreal Canadiens.


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