Canucks Sign Jack Skille to One-Year Contract


Photo Credit: Canucks twitter (@Canucks)

The Canucks announced today that they have come to terms with former PTO winger Jack Skille, signing him to a one-year, one-way deal worth $700,000. Skille impressed the Canucks brass during training camp with his physical play and energetic battle levels. He comes at the cost of Emerson Etem, who was claimed this morning on waivers by the Anaheim Ducks, after the Canucks waived Etem yesterday to make room for him.

Skille was drafted seventh overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005, after scoring more than a point per game with the U.S. National Team Development Program in his draft year. A physical engaging winger with size and a decent shot, Skille never lived up to the expectations that his high draft position created for him. After scoring 25 points in 79 games with the Hawks over four seasons, he was shipped off to the Florida Panthers prior to the 2011 trade deadline. Since then, he has also spent time in Columbus and Colorado, compiling a total of 75 points in 313 NHL contests.

He came to the Canucks on a PTO, giving the memorable line that he’d “chew through rope” to make the team. I’m assuming he didn’t actually have to do that, but clearly something about the way Skille played during the exhibition season endeared him to the Canucks. It certainly wasn’t his production, of which there was none, but he received compliments on his aggressive style and work ethic.

As mentioned, Skille didn’t pick up any points during the preseason, but he did hold his own possession-wise, with a Corsi-for percentage of 50.7 at 5-on-5, albeit while starting 61 percent of non-neutral faceoffs in the offensive zone.

Jack Skille - Hero

My personal choice for signing a PTO would have been Tuomo Ruutu. He doesn’t have the size or snarl as Skille, but he showed more offensive potential, scoring a nice goal – while killing a penalty no less. He also has the advantage of positional flexibility, being able to play both centre and the wing. Ruutu had a 52.6 Corsi-for percentage at evens, with an offensive-zone start ratio of 41 percent.

With the addition of Skille, the Canucks opening night roster is now set. This is of course not the same as their official opening roster, which had to be submitted on Tuesday. That one contained Emerson Etem, who had to be surgically removed from the roster before Skille could be added.

I have no problem with the Canucks waiving Etem – he was objectively bad in preseason, and this is supposed to be a meritocracy – though I do wonder why they didn’t make that decision a few days earlier. Etem could have been waived on the same day as 30 other players, including high profile names like Teemu Pulkkinen, Seth Griffith, and P.A. Parenteau, all of whom were claimed. Instead, the Canucks waited until the waiver wire was completely clear, and even broadcast the day before that they intended to waive him, given the league nearly 48 hours to think about Etem, with no other players to consider. That strikes me as ill-advised.

Regardless, it was bad luck that he got claimed, and the fact that he made it as far as Anaheim (roughly 25 teams deep) is an indication that most of the league passed on taking him for free. Still, it’s depth that was lost for nothing. It’s unfortunate.

Back to Skille, who was given the day off today to get his living arrangements in order.

My sympathies to Emerson Etem, who now has to move just weeks after becoming a father. That’s an unfortunate spot to be in, though it is part of the job.

It’s unclear at this point where Skille will slot into the final lineup, or whether he’ll be a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first game on Saturday (I’d wager yes on that). His best fit would be on the fourth line, possibly in place of Derek Dorsett (who I’m sure Willie won’t scratch) or Alex Burrows, though sitting youngins like Brendan Gaunce or Jake Virtanen and shuffling these weird lines is also a possibility.

I don’t get Bo Horvat as a 4C separated from Baertschi, but what do I know.

As mentioned, Skille costs the Canucks $700,000 against the cap, for this season only. As it is a one-way deal, Skille will get the same paycheque whether he is in the National League, or the American League.

  • Dirty30

    My sympathies to Emerson Etem, who now has to move just weeks after becoming a father. That’s an unfortunate spot to be in, though it is part of the job.

    Given the choice between playing in the NHL in Anaheim and the AHL in Utica, I’m pretty sure which one Etem prefers.

  • pheenster

    Sounds to me like they wanted Etem’s contract completely off the books. They basically did everything but rent a billboard that said “EMERSON ETEM IS ON WAIVERS”.

    • pheenster

      That sounds slightly paranoid, but you may be right.

      Benning seems to show little tolerance for players who don’t have the right attitude, even those in Utica. That may be part of the reason for some of the trades last year. If he felt Etem didn’t put in the work during the summer then he may have lost him on purpose.

      • Dirty30

        No, I believe that $750K is the threshold if he is sent to Utica. I am glad that he got the full amount instead of a split between NHL/AHL salaries. Its a good carrot for prospective PTOs in the future that they will get a full NHL salary if they make the team.

  • pheenster

    The way you lay it out definitely looks like a “Please take Etem” play.

    And no, doesn’t count against cap if he’s sent to the AHL. Just need to pay him.

    I’ve always wondered about the living situation of bubble players. Not many places go with short term, month to month renting. Do they just stay in hotels while they’re up?

    Or maybe they even buy a place as a longer term investment?

    Regardless, probably sucks to get shipped back and forth. That said, Skille’s being paid 700k to be a 13th forward playing a game.

    • pheenster

      The NHL world is pretty small, so players generally rent apartments or houses from other players who may have been traded, but still own a place, or who have otherwise gone elsewhere for the offseason etc.. I believe there are many former players who also keep apartments in NHL cities for said purpose.

  • pheenster

    >> Regardless, it was bad luck that he got claimed….

    Unless of course the Canucks were trying to get someone to take him off their hands, in which case it was brilliant managing.

    >> Still, it’s depth that was lost for nothing.

    It’s not nothing. The Canucks got $775k off their payroll and one contract spot. Go look up “opportunity cost” on Wikipedia.

    >> It’s unfortunate.

    No, no it’s not. I’m willing to bet that everyone involved is happier today than they were yesterday.

    • pheenster

      In addition, veteran call-up players are almost untradable.

      Why should a club trade for the type of players that are often put on waivers? Why pay the Canucks for something they can get for free?

    • Vanoxy

      I’m 99% sure Benning wanted him to get claimed.
      He could have exposed him Monday or Tuesday, when the waiver wire was deeper, and had a good chance of clearing.

      Remember, Etem could have signed his qualifying offer, for a higher NHL salary, but it was a 2 way deal… he chose to work out a 1 way deal at lower NHL money, which tells me he knew his chances of sticking here were not great. I assume Aquillini balked at paying 3/4 of a mil for a guy who was probably the 4th or 5th call up option, behind Lebate, Rendulic, Zalewski and maybe Virtanen once Rodin returns.

      • pheenster

        I’d say that it’s obvious that this is the case. I doubt they were worried too much about the $775K, but I do think they wanted the contract spot back.

        If it was this obvious to the rest of us, why did it elude everyone at Canucks Army? Possibly because they have a narrative to push and they construed this event in a manner that fit that narrative?

  • Vanoxy

    “My personal choice for signing a PTO would have been Tuomo Ruutu. He doesn’t have the size or snarl as Skille, but he showed more offensive potential, scoring a nice goal – while killing a penalty no less. He also has the advantage of positional flexibility, being able to play both centre and the wing. Ruutu had a 52.6 Corsi-for percentage at evens, with an offensive-zone start ratio of 41 percent.”

    Ruutu was my pick as well, due to the ability to play all 3 forward positions, but Skille has enough snarl to his game that we will hopefully see less of Dorsett in the lineup, which is a very good thing. A 4th line winger rotation of Burrows, Skille, Dorsett is pretty solid, giving each of them nights off when needed. With Gaunce and Granlund, and apparently Horvat, seeing time at 4C.

    Skille for Etem is a good trade in my books.
    And the fact that Skille was a surprise addition, at 0 asset cost, should keep the asset management crowd pacified somewhat.

  • wojohowitz

    Basically it`s a trade – Etem for Skille – a trade that for me doesn`t make sense. I`m happy for him to get another chance. He was all in here in Vancouver. That`s why he spent the summer here being high profile and getting ready. He just was not mentally prepared.

    Here`s the hump Etem has to get across. One day he will look around the room and notice everyone there is younger than he is and that`s the day he will realize he is a veteran and he better play like one if he wants to continue his career. Will he ever figure that out.

      • pheenster

        SMH really? Tell me you’re not one of those people on Twitter getting the vapours and demanding that Willie be fired over the line rushes in practice today. Memo to those people:


        • chinook

          No, I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of both the management of this team and posters on these message boards in which some players get judged on their pre-season and some do not.

          But your faux outrage was fun to read.

          • pheenster

            Um, I don’t know how long you’ve been watching hockey for, but there are two types of players in training camp: those with something to prove, and those with nothing to prove. That’s the case for 30 teams, every year, and has been since the beginning of time. No “hypocrisy” here, only the same way things have always been.

  • pheenster

    not that it is too relevant, but Skille DID get a goal in the preseason, but is was an uncredited tip in (from a stecher shot in the first televised game I think?)

    plus, the guy has a talent for sitting ion front of the net, just hope he plays as well into the rest of the season

  • Dinsdale

    Since Etem gets to stay up with Anaheim rather than go down to Utica, it seems as though Benning was doing him a favor by advertising his availability a day early and then waiving him when there was no-one else tempting.

    I’m perfectly okay with seeing Etem leave.
    Good luck to him. I imagine his family’d enjoy Cal over Utica in the winter.

  • TheRealRusty

    I’ve said it all along. There is no real reason for GMJBTL to draft 4th line type players (like what they did this past draft) or to trade for 4th line toughness. Replacement level players (Rhuttu & Skille) like that can be had in the off season via PTOs or 3rd tier UFA contracts. I’d rather them swing for the fences with skilled type players.

    As far as today’s Etem getting picked up by Anahiem, I’m good with it as long as we pick up a free asset to replace him (ie. Skille). No net loss in asset since Skille is everything we wanted Etem to be.

  • chinook

    “though I do wonder why they didn’t make that decision a few days earlier.”

    “I don’t get Bo Horvat as a 4C separated from Baertschi, but what do I know.”

    I love it when Jeremy Davis is confused – shows all is well in Canuck-land.

  • Copperfinch

    I cannot believe that people are upset Etem was waived get over it…he just was not good enough it was obvious, but Canucks as Ducks see his potential but the player just does not have the passion to put his game in high gear all the time. He goes out and just goes through the motions.

    Next it will be Canucks management doesn’t know anything about asset management as they lost a good depth player, which is what they lost, but we have more quality depth players with Utica that play with passion.

    In hockey its the rabbit that wins not the turtle, good move by Benning will not be playing in the NHL for very long if at all this season.

    • Dirty30

      If you read the comments, there doesn’t seem to be anyone who is upset about Etem going to ANA.

      Most comments about asset management were positive — this is likely a move to open a roster spot.

      And lots of posters wishing Emerson all the best and hoping he gets his career on track.

      Unless you only read the article … in which case the End is Near!