Brendan Keany

Jeff Skinner Talks Contract Extension

"I like it here, and I didn't feel like I needed to...look elsewhere."

June 11, 2019 - 3:54 pm

BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - Fresh off signing an 8-year, $72 million contract extension with the Sabres late last week, Jeff Skinner was at the Key Bank Center to speak to the media about what is now the second largest contract in franchise history.

"For me, some of the top things on my list were some of the positive things about Buffalo," began Skinner. "Right at the top - I want to win. I want to play on a competitive team, and I think that, with the players we have, that's a realistic thing to think."

On July 1, Skinner would have had the opportunity to become an unrestricted free agent, meaning he could essentially sign with any team in NHL that possessed enough salary cap room to afford him. However, he says he never really came close to hitting the free agent market.

"I just didn't feel the need to get to that point," he said. "I like it here, and I didn't feel it needed to get to that point where I wanted to look elsewhere."

The 40-goal scorer has only played one season in Buffalo, and what an interesting, yet ultimately disappointing season it was. In the beginning of the year, it appeared to most Sabres fans that the now longest playoff drought in the league would be coming to an end, as the Sabres rattled off 10 consecutive victories in November. However, in the second half of the season, that team was nowhere to be found - plummeting to the bottom five of the standings - familiar territory for a franchise that hasn't been all that competitive in nearly a decade.

But Skinner says he's ready to be a part of the change.

"There are some pretty talented players that are pretty young and are going to get better," he said. "When you look at the start we had, and I know we sort of ran into a speed bump there and didn't finish off the way we did, but I don't think that takes away from that part of the season where we did go on a bit of a run and had a fair bit of success. Those are kinds of things that point toward the right direction."

So far, the only major change from last season is new boss behind the bench. Before Ralph Krueger was hired, it was reported that Skinner wanted to know who the coach would be before signing an extension in Buffalo. Last week, Krueger spoke to the media about the phone conversation he had with Skinner, and the new coach even went as far to say that he operated under the assumption that Skinner would be a Buffalo Sabre. 

Skinner touched on that conversation with Krueger and says he's excited to work with him.

"As soon as it was announced, I got a few texts from people that had relationships with him in the past, whether it was playing for him, or knowing someone who played for him or whatever that relationship was, and every text or call that I got was extremely positive, so that was a really good sign," he said. "When I talked to him, it was just an introductory call, so you just get to know him, get to know what his motivation is, what his goals are and how he goes about doing his business...Listening to him talk, it's apparent - his passion and his excitement to be here."

Having signed the second most lucrative contract in franchise history, second only to Jack Eichel, Skinner discusses the pressure that comes with a hefty contract and how he plans on meeting those goals and expectations.

"I don't think I'm different from any athlete, really, I think you expect to keep getting better," he began. "Everyone in this sport is a competitive person, and you put pressure on yourself to perform and hold yourself to a high standard. For me, that's not going to change. It's a mindset, and I don't think it can be changed by outside influence; it's something that you kind of have in you. Obviously, I know there's going to be more expectations; there's going to be talk about it in the media and stuff like that, but for me, I just focus on playing and getting better."

Next up for the Sabres is the NHL Entry Draft, which begins on Friday, June 21. The Sabres are currently slated to select seventh overall after dropping two spots in the draft lottery, and they will also have a second pick late in the first round. That pick won't be solidified until the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final because the Sabres possess the Blues' first round selection. 

Listen to the entire press conference with Skinner below:

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