Do you spend your nights tossing and turning wondering ‘what ever happened to Peter Mueller?’ Do you space out when your boss is talking to you because you suddenly realize that you haven’t heard from Jack Skille in a while? If the answer is yes, then you my friend are in luck.
Because precisely zero people demanded it, here is a new series where we give an update on some of our favorite Florida Panthers from last year. We have already caught up with Peter Mueller and T.J. Brennan, and today we will look at Jack Skille a guy who teased his potential with the Panthers but never fully bloomed as a Panther.
Jack Skille was acquired by the Panthers on February 10, 2011. He came over from the Chicago Blackhawks as a part of the Michael Frolik trade. Skille was, and still is, a player with a lot of potential. He was taken by the Blackhawks with the 7th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and he was 23 year old when he was traded to the Panthers.
The Panthers had high hopes for Skille but injuries kept him from ever getting settled in with the team. In two-and-a-half seasons with Florida, Skille played in 99 games and tallied 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists). His best year came last season when he played in 40 of Florida’s 48 games and tallied 12 points (3-9-12).
Where is he now?
Jack Skille became an unrestricted free agent after the 2012-13 season and during the offseason he signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets worth $675,000 at the NHL level. (His AHL salary falls to $125,000) With Columbus, Skille has bounced back and forth between the NHL and AHL but recently he has started to solidify a spot with the big club. He has scored four goals in nine games with the Blue Jackets this year including goals in back-to-back games heading into the Christmas break.
At the moment Skille looks like he might stick at the NHL level with Columbus but things could change quickly for the 26-year-old. Oddly enough, Skille says one of the most important moments of his career occurred off the ice in Florida last season when he had a conversation with none other than Alexei Kovalev.
He gave me some really good advice, the first time anyone’s ever just spelled it out for me like that. We sat near each other in the locker room, and he just struck up a conversation with me. He said, ‘I can tell you’re gripping your stick too hard; you need to relax.’ And I was like ‘what do you mean? I’m not in that position (to relax).’ But he told me, ‘Don’t worry about mistakes and don’t worry about making mistakes. Just be yourself, play your game, and when you do that, everything’s going to come natural, and you’re going to look like you’re confident out there, and that’s half the battle.’
Skille has taken this advice to heart and so far the returns in Columbus are looking pretty good. You could always see the potential in Skille’s game but there always seemed to be something holding him back. Sometimes it was injuries while other times it was bad luck. In his three seasons with Florida, his shooting percentages were 3.0, 5.3 and 4.3, all below his career average of 6.7%.
This season, Skille is playing for a contract. He will be a UFA again at the end of this season and if he wants to get some stability with a multi-year one-way deal somewhere he is going to have to fully establish himself as an everyday NHL player. With four goal in nine games, he is off to a good start but whether he can keep up that scoring rate remains to be seen.
What do you think about Jack Skille? Any thoughts about what has held him back throughout the years? What do you think the future holds for the former first rounder? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and follow The Rat Trick on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest.