2017 NHL Draft: Skinner enjoying Draft experience
Lethbridge Hurricanes goaltender Stuart Skinner has done a lot over the course of his WHL career.
Since joining the league as a full-time player back in 2014-15, the Edmonton product has helped the Hurricanes to a Central Division title and a WHL Eastern Conference Championship series and represented Canada at the 2014 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge and the 2016 Ivan Hlinka tournament.
He’s even become one of just seven goalies in WHL history to score a goal.
Now, with the NHL Draft in Chicago on the horizon, Skinner has the chance to achieve his ultimate dream — to be drafted by an NHL team.
“It’s an exciting moment for me and my family, this time of the year,” Skinner said. “Growing up I’ve always watched these things and watching the Draft it seems like everyone’s smiling and everyone’s having the best time of their life.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound backstopper added that he’s doing everything he can to follow that example.
“I’m just kind of having fun with the whole process.”
For Skinner, that process began earlier this month when he made the trip down to Buffalo to participate in the NHL Combine.
The former Hurricanes first round pick said that while he enjoyed the Combine, the highlight for him was by far the interviews with prospective NHL teams.
“Every team was different; all the questions were different,” Skinner said. “It was just a completely great experience for me. I learned a lot there just based on how the other guys answered their questions and how they responded to different things that they saw from different teams.”
The experience at the Combine only added to the confidence Skinner gained from his play on the ice this past season.
The veteran WHL goalie posted a .905 Sv% and 3.26 GAA in 60 regular season appearances for the Hurricanes and backstopping his team to an appearance in the WHL Eastern Conference Championship series.
“After we ended the season like that I got a lot more confident just from my personal playing,” Skinner said.
Others began to take notice of the young goalie’s ability, too.
Skinner was ranked fifth among North American goalies on NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings, due in part to his considerable presence in the crease and “excellent compete and work habits.”
“I think there’s a lot of things that helped me, I mean all my mentors that I’ve had – if I didn’t have them I wouldn’t be here today,” Skinner said. “Training with Eli Wilson, with Peter Fry, with John Stevenson, with Jackie Stevenson, Gary Roberts. All these different people have come into my life and they’re huge reasons why I’m here today.”
Skinner added that he wouldn’t be the player that he is today without all of the challenges that he has faced over the course of his young career.
“Looking at my whole career there’s so many times that I’ve had to overcome adversity and overcome tough times when things just really didn’t go your way and I think that those times were good lessons for me,” he said. “Everything that I went through developed me into the person that I am today and the player that I am today.”
Stuart Skinner – Goaltender
Weight: 205 pounds
Hometown: Edmonton, Alta.
Acquired: Round 1, 17th overall – 2013 WHL Bantam Draft
2014-15: 43 GP, 13-20-2-3, 3.69 GAA, .909 SV%, 1 SO
2015-16: 44 GP, 27-10-1-0, 2.73 GAA, .920 SV%, 3 SO
2016-17: 60 GP, 34-18-3-2, 3.26 GAA, .905 SV%, 2 SO
The NHL Draft takes place June 23 to 24 in Chicago, Illinois, with coverage provided by Sportsnet beginning at 4:30 p.m. MT.