With the 2011-12 season sadly in the rear-view window, it’s once again time for The Rat Trick to take a look back at those who had the biggest impact on the the Florida Panthers.
Today my spotlight is on forward Jack Skille.
There are many words that you can use to describe the former first round draft pick (seventh overall) of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005, but sniper isn’t one of them. As long as you don’t set your expectations too high, the words that you can use to describe him are, energetic, fast, quick, physical, fun, and my favourite word…..Crash. Most people who followed Jack’s career while he was a Blackhawk knew him from that word but meant it in a negative way. I prefer to use it in a positive manner, as in he would “crash” into anything that moved, or had the puck.
With high expectations that were ultimately never met, Dale Tallon who originally drafted Skille while he was the GM in Chicago, traded for the rugged winger in 2011 hoping that a fresh start here in Florida would turn his career in a positive direction. With Michael Frolik going the other way to the Hawks, many people wondered if Dale gave up too much in the deal. Frolik with two seasons of 21 goals under his belt with the Panthers was struggling as a Panther, and his easy going smile and personality were sent north. With the Blackhawks Frolik has a total of 8 goals 91 games. And that is while playing with a significantly more talented roster than he had here in South Florida. Don’t feel bad Panther fans. While there are many nights that look like Jack is struggling to score, Frolik who is allegedly more talented, often makes me say “you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a boat”.
As for Skille, he may have finally settled into the role that he was destined for. A checking winger who could give you some energy, add a little boost, and toss in a goal every once in awhile. At the same time, he would play hard every shift, and hit almost everything in sight, and on occasion drop the gloves. Thus the name “Crash”, as he had 99 hits in 46 games for the Panthers.
A season that was full of injuries, Jack missed a number of games with injuries to his shoulder, which finally sidelined him for the entire season. A crowd and fan favourite, “Crash” was a valuable member of the forward unit playing mostly third and fourth line minutes. There were many nights that he and his linemates would be able to cycle the puck down low in the offensive zone, keeping the opposition from controlling the puck, and unable to get out of their zone. While he didn’t score much, his line could keep a team “hemmed in” for 30 -45 seconds. For his role, that was equal to doing his job, and any goals that he would score or assist on were just gravy. Like this play:
Jack has one more year remaining on his contract. Making the team next season isn’t a given, and he’ll need to be completely healthy to be effective. A strong recovery from his shoulder injury and a good training camp are crucial to him remaining with the Panthers.
Final Grade: C. If you expected him to become a 20 goal scorer when he was acquired you were delusional. If playing with the likes of Kane, Toews, Hossa and Patrick Sharp in Chicago couldn’t help him find the net, then it wasn’t going to be much better here. Not that I mean that in a negative way, as we had some fine players join our roster this season, it’s just that Jack is not a goal scorer. His game is energy, forechecking, and creating some chaos. And that’s ok. Every team needs a couple reliable players like that, and he can make himself a very nice career out of it. Had he played a full season, he may have scored 10 goals which would have been a career high. However as hard as he worked this season to stay in the lineup, he’ll have to work that much harder, and be more productive next season to be a part of the team taking the next step.
Thanks for reading. We welcome your comments and opinions.
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