For the Canes' Jeff Skinner, moving back to center from the left wing poses no problem.
"I think I'm equally as comfortable," Skinner said today. "Obviously I played a lot more at center than wing in junior. The past couple of months I've gotten used to the wing and have adjusted pretty well I think. Hopefully it goes well back at center."
For Canes coach Paul Maurice, the move has as much to do about the future as tonight's game against the Washington Capitals. The Canes' future, he said, will have Eric Staal, Brandon Sutter and Skinner as their top centermen.
"The thing to remember is that Staal, Skinner, Sutter, based on their ages, whenever it happens that's potentially a very, very good center ice," Maurice said. "A really high-end center ice. So I guess my thinking is, we might as well try to get to that as soon as possible and if you can do it for stretches, let 'em run.
"We may make a decision at some point that Skinner is Staal's left winger, that it's where he will make the biggest impact, whether that's two years or five years from now. But center is his natural position and I think our team is really a lot deeper in two or three years if that's our center ice."
Skinner will open with Tuomo Ruutu on his right wing and Jussi Jokinen on the left, although Maurice cautioned there could be changes during the game and in upcoming games.
"I have three there who can play center," Maurice said. "So some of it will be who they play against, what the matchup looks like, what's the setup on defense."
Skinner, the youngest player in the league, had a roaring start to his rookie year, with 15 points in his first 15 games, but has nine points in his last 18. With eight goals and 16 assists, he still ranks second among NHL rookies in points and is first in assists.
Skinner conceded he may have been pressing in recent games, trying too hard to play too well.
"I think so," he said. "There's always going to be ups and downs, and you're going to get bounces some games and maybe some games you have to fight for it a little bit more.
I think a lot of it is confidence, getting back in sort of that groove where things are in a rhythm for you."
Maurice said Skinner pressing was understandable -- not so much because he's a rookie, but because he was playing on Staal's line.
"That's a function of playing left wing with Eric Staal," Maurice said. "Not that Eric Staal puts that kind of pressure on Skinner. But you know it: When you're on that line you have to put up numbers. That's the bottom line.
"He's played on that line his whole career. He's been The Guy, and the pressure has always been on the guys playing with him, that they had to get it done. So he would feel it. It's a good learning process for him."
Maurice also confirmed that he would play Jamie McBain with Tim Gleason tonight as a defensive pairing.
"McBain's another player who has to develop," Maurice said. "I know he's a first-year guy, but we need to put him in some situations where he's playing against better and harder opposition to develop him. Because he's a good offensive player. If he can add more of a defensive component to his game, then we're going to have a really, really good defenseman.
"Based on some of our defensive play, I don't think we lose anything trying him there. I do think there will be more movement on the back end as we play different opponents. And if (Alex) Ovechkin is giving McBain more than we want him to give him, then we'll move him, but a lot of teams don't have an Ovechkin."