A product of the U.S. Under-18 Development Program in Ann Arbor, MI, Skille was drafted #7 overall by the Blackhawks in 2005, just prior to his freshman season under Coach Mike Eaves at the University of Wisconsin.
That season, he registered 13 goals and 7 assists for the Badgers, helping lead the team to an NCAA Championship. The following season with the Badgers, Skille had 8 goals, 10 assists and 12 penalty minutes, He also played on the U.S. World Juniors Team that finished second to Canada, along with future Hawk teammate Patrick Kane.
At the end of the Badgers 2006-2007 season, Skille was signed by the Blackhawks and assigned to Norfolk. In the last 9 games of the Admirals’ regular season, the then 19 year-old Skille scored 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points. He was, however, a healthy scratch in three of the Admirals subsequent games in a first-round playoff elimination.
2007-08: Skille became a regular with the Rockford IceHogs and registered 16 goals and 18 assists in 59 regular season games. Though he saw more playing time in the post-season, relative to the prior year, Skille was unable to duplicate his regular season performance in the playoffs. He did, however, put up decent numbers during his 16-game stint with
Hockey’s Future’s December 2005 WJC Q&A with Skille.
Opinions diverge fairly widely on Skille as a prospect. Some see him as a scoring power forward, others as at best a checking line player.
Without question, he possesses exceptional speed and a blistering shot that he can get off very quickly. He is a rock solid 205 pounds and quite strong, especially for his relatively young age. Against college and international competition, he showed an appetite for contact and could at times be physically dominating, whether in the corners or establishing position in front of the net.
Some question whether he will have enough size and strength to succeed playing that style at the professional level. Other questions about Skille include a reputation for lingering at center ice, waiting for outlet passes and ignoring defensive responsibilities, as well as an overall lack of hockey sense.
One advantage Skille should have at the pro level is his sheer speed and an underrated one-on-one game. He has an almost predatory ability to find a weak or tentative defender, who he will then exploit to generate breakaway opportunities. If Skille plays with superior passers and playmakers, he should be able to score consistently in the NHL.
Despite concerns about his two-way play, Skille is talented enough offensively to be a top-six forward. As long as he is matched with the right linemates, he has the ability to succeed.