Edmonton Oilers

Stuart Skinner named NHL Rookie of the Month for March

The NHL announced Saturday that Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner won the league’s Rookie of the Month for March. Skinner started 12 games in the month, going 10–1–1, with a 2.83 GAA and 0.908 SV% along with one shutout. In fact, his ten wins over that span led the league while also setting the Oilers franchise record for wins in a calendar month. The 24-year-old became the first Oilers rookie to receive Rookie of the Month since Connor McDavid during the 2015–16 campaign, where the current captain won three times.

Skinner faced some tough opponents

Not only did the month feature a large volume of wins, but there were several keys win against tough opponents. Skinner opened the month with wins over the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets before stealing a game in Buffalo and then coming from behind to beat the Bruins in Boston. He also beat the contending Dallas Stars at home in addition to important road wins against Seattle and Vegas. Skinner’s best and most important performance came in the game against the Los Angeles Kings, where he stopped all 43 shots for a crucial 2–0 win over their divisional foes.

Skinner finished the month with 1.11 GSAx and a 0.0023% differential Fenwick Save Percentage according to Evolving Hockey. On a game by game basis, he took away from wins six times, added to wins twice, and stole wins for the Oilers twice, while losing the game for the Oilers in his sole regulation win and coming out as a slight negative, adding to the loss in the overtime loss.

Who were the other rookie contenders?

The other rookie goalie of note that played games was Carolina’s Pyotr Kotchetov, who played five games in March, finishing with a 0.892 SV% but a 1.99 GSAx. Notable forwards that Skinner beat out for the honour included Matias Maccelli, who put up six goals and seven assists for 13 points in 16 games played, Matty Beniers who had 2–8—10 in 14 games played, and Wyatt Johnston, who had 7–3—10 in 15 games played. On the defensive side, Buffalo’s Owen Power and Ottawa’s Jakes Sanderson both had seven assists in 15 games. The only skater in that group who had a on-ice expected goal share above 50% was Beniers at 56.82%, while Maccelli and Johnston had some shooting luck to finish at 55% and 56% on-ice actual goal shares respectively, while the Seattle centre also led the category at 70.59%.

The nomination puts Skinner on the map for the Calder race. There hasn’t been a lot of chatter thus far due to relatively average raw and shot quality adjusted stats, but his importance to the Oilers cannot be understated as he’s provided some needed stability during Jack Campbell’s struggles. There’s five games left in the Oilers regular season and Skinner might only see three more starts, which could hurt his chances, but the Professional Hockey Writers Association may decide to reward the starting goalie of one of the league’s top contenders with rookie of the year votes.

Photo by Curtis Comeau/Icon Sportswire

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