Defenseman Hunter Skinner, the New York Rangers 2019 fourth-round selection in the NHL Entry Draft was actually headed to Western Michigan University before the Rangers selected him. It was a pretty good idea at the time as Skinner was viewed as a long-term project who had solid offensive skills but was suspect on the defensive side. Western Michigan also was coached by former NHL coach Andy Murray so it seemed as if Skinner was making the right move.
However, after attending the Rangers Prospect camp last July, Skinner decided to forego the NCAA route and signed with the London Knights of the OHL. The Knights are coached also by a former NHL coach in Dale Hunter but given the choice of the two coaches, I would pick Hunter to help Skinner speed up his development and possible professional career.
Skinner made his OHL regular-season debut on Friday night scoring twice in a losing effort as his London Knights lost to the Peterborough Petes 6-4 (game highlights and boxscore). Skinner earned the game’s third star with his two goals on five-shot performance.
The young defenseman opened the scoring for the Knights when he got the puck at the point and fired a laser that beat Peterborough goalie Hunter Jones at 15:53 of the first period. The goal gave the Knights their only lead of the game as the Petes would respond with two goals to take a 2-1 lead after one.
The Petes would add two more goals in the second and built their lead to 4-1 before the Knights would respond in the third period to cut it to 4-2. The Knights would give up another goal before Skinner would answer with his second of the night another blast from the point to pull the Knight to within two goals once again.
— Mike Stubbs (@stubbs980) September 21, 2019
I like Skinner’s offensive skill set as he has one of the better shots among the prospects but his defense is going to need some serious work. The Knights are right back in action Saturday Knight against the Barrie Colts.
Defenseman Nico Gross had a secondary assist on four shots with a +1 and a high-sticking minor as his Oshawa Generals opened their season with a 4-1 road win over the Kingston Frontenacs. Gross the Rangers 2018 fourth-round pick earned his assist on Oshawa’s first goal, a power-play goal just 2:31 into the contest.
Gross is playing for a contract in his second year as a Rangers draft pick, he has good size (6’2 185) and solid defensive skills. But he needs to step up his game on the offensive side and be more active on the ice to earn that NHL contract. Gross is a very likable person and one wants to root for him but hopefully Gross got the message being cut by the Rangers so quickly at training camp.