Colorado Avalanche Rumor: Jack Skille Will Return

Nov 17, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Colorado Avalanche forward Jack Skille (8) skates on the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Colorado Avalanche forward Jack Skille (8) skates on the ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche rumor: Right wing Jack Skille’s social media indicate he may be returning to the team next season.

Colorado Avalanche right wing Jack Skille was a little bit of a Cinderella story last season. He got offered a paid tryout contract during the preseason for the team. While players get offered these contracts every season, it’s rare for them to pan out into an actual contract offer. Indeed, according to former NHL-er Paul Bissonnette, some teams like the St. Louis Blues only bring PTO players in to change the mood in training camp with no intention of evaluating them as a team fit.

In any case, Colorado did bring in Jack Skille with the intention of evaluating him for a spot on the team. His work ethic was so strong, and his overall play impressive enough, that the Avalanche front offices signed him to a two-way, one-year contract worth $675,000.

Jack Skille was never meant to be a big numbers guy, so his 14 points (8 goals, 6 assists) aren’t really an issue. This was a player who averaged under nine minutes of ice time per game since he skated almost exclusively on the fourth line.

Nor was Skille meant to be a strictly energy player. He’s a compact 6-foot-1, 216 pounds and gritty, but not exactly an enforcer. No, what the Colorado Avalanche were looking for in Jack was what The Hockey News described:

"“Never takes a shift off and wears his heart on his sleeve.”"

In other words, the team wanted a workhorse, the kind of character guy who could be a good role model for the young core players.

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Jack Skille certainly started out delivering that kind of play. Even in the tough starting games with the Colorado Avalanche, Skille provided all the energy and work ethic that had gotten him a job with the team. He wasn’t a huge difference-maker, but, like I said, he was never meant to be.

Unfortunately, Skille got derailed like so many hockey players do — with a concussion. He ended up missing five games in February. Again, as sometimes happens with players dealing with head injuries, Skille wasn’t quite the same afterward. He earned only one point — an assist — in 15 games. That’s a little low even for an energy player.

By the end of the season, Skille, like most of the team, seemed pretty invisible. I don’t know if he was part of the locker room issues that heralded the final implosion or if he was just a victim of it.

A lot of us figured that spelled the end for Mr. Jack Skille in a Colorado Avalanche uniform. Mile High Sticking writer Ross Sellers speculated as much in Skille’s player grade:

Related Story: Skille Player Grade

At the time, I agreed with him. After all, he was cut from two of the last five games of the season, including the final game against the Anaheim Ducks. That didn’t sound like a player the Colorado Avalanche were planning on returning.

Here’s where the utter speculation comes in — Jack Skille is still in Colorado according to his Instagram.

Now, Colorado is a destination state, so Skille still being here climbing around our mountains doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Of course, practically all the other players are gallivanting around in other locales, according to their social media. (Tyson Barrie‘s been in Arizona and LA, Erik Johnson is following horses around, Eric Gelinas is back in Canada.)

However, check out this comment from Jack Skille a couple days ago:

He talks about attending Red Rocks concerts in the future — something he’s unlikely to do if he’s looking for a job with another team.

My understanding of NHL exit interviews is that the team indicates to players whose contracts are expiring whether they’re intending to make another offer. Neither side necessarily makes an announcement right away, but both sides know what’s going on.

To me, it sounds like Jack Skille knows he has a good chance of being in Colorado next season.

I get that’s very little to go on — and if Avalanche GM Joe Sakic would just hold a state of the union address for Avs Nation, we could go on actual facts. Failing that, though, let’s look at why Colorado might, indeed, offer Jack Skille another contract.

First of all, he’s cheap. While a six-figure salary is prime in the real world, in professional sports, even hockey, $675,000 is a light investment. That’s especially true if the player is on a two-way contract.

Secondly, Skille appears to be a good locker room guy. He’s the sort of character guy who has no problem supporting the big talent on the team. For instance, he even made a video to help center Matt Duchene win the All Star Breakaway Twitter vote:

That’s pretty light, but no one else on the team really did anything. (Though that is captain Gabriel Landeskog’s Twitter.) In other words, the Colorado Avalanche really need locker room guys.

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Finally, he fits enough of the Avalanche mold — big, gritty, speedy two-way players with leadership — to justify giving him another two-way contract. After all, it would be easy to slot him into the fourth line again or even keep him as the 13th forward.

For these reasons, I believe we haven’t seen the end of Jack Skille in burgundy and blue. And that’s probably a good thing.