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Hurricanes move rookie Jeff Skinner to Eric Staal’s top line

2010 NHL Draft Portraits

poses for a portrait during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

Harry How

Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner might be a rookie, but he’s making at an immediate impact on the team.

For one thing, the talented winger is leading the team in points at this moment in time. You’d think Eric Staal would be the club’s top point producer (three goals, four assists for seven points this season), but Skinner is No. 1 so far in 2010-11 with three goals and five assists for eight points.

As a reward for Skinner’s play - and with the goal of giving Staal a boost - Skinner will reportedly be moved up to the Canes’ top line. Chip Alexander of the News & Observer passed along the report.

Rookie Jeff Skinner has replaced Jussi Jokinen on Eric Staal’s line and will be the left winger opposite Chad LaRose tonight against the New York Islanders. The Canes coaches had been reluctant to use Skinner on the top line, wanting the 18-year-old -- the youngest player in the NHL -- to continue to build confidence and not have to face top defensive pairs.

“Obviously for myself I wasn’t creating enough offense the last couple of games,” Staal said today. “This is a little bit of a change. He’s an offensive guy with some great instincts. I look forward to it. ...

“He’s a good kid. He’s got a smile on his face. He competes, he works. ... That’s all you can ask for out of a young guy.”

So that will make the team’s top line Staal-Skinner-LaRose. Perhaps giving Staal a more dynamic lineup will help him out, give Skinner even more time on the ice and perhaps even assist Jokinen by allowing him to play against lesser competition.

As you may know, NHL teams shake up their lines as often as every night, so this is by no means a permanent thing. Still, if you need evidence that Skinner is making an impression on his new team, just point to this (and his hot start).