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Sabres sign Jeff Skinner to eight year contract

Average annual value $9 million

June 07, 2019 - 10:21 pm

Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN/AP - John Wawrow) - The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed leading scorer Jeff Skinner to an eight year, $72 million contract in addressing one their most pressing offseason needs.

Skinner becomes the team's second-highest paid player behind captain Jack Eichel in a deal reached Friday night, and three weeks before the forward was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. The ninth-year player, who has now topped 30 goals four times, had been considered a key piece for a rebuilding team since Buffalo acquired him in a trade with Carolina in August.

The just-turned 27-year-old led Buffalo with a career-best 40 goals and finished third on the team with 63 points in 82 games.

Negotiations began in January, with Skinner expressing a desire to stay in Buffalo. Aside from his production and bond he developed with Eichel, Skinner also enjoyed playing closer to his hometown of Toronto, about a two-hour drive from Buffalo.

Re-signing Skinner was general manager Jason Botterill's next priority after filling the team's coaching vacancy by hiring Ralph Krueger three weeks ago.

A failure to re-sign Skinner would have been considered a significant setback for a franchise in the midst of a team-worst eight-year playoff drought — the NHL's longest active streak — and at a time the Sabres are set to celebrate their 50th season.

Buffalo is coming off a season in which it finished 27th overall and joined the 2016-17 Philadelphia Flyers in becoming the second of 50 NHL teams to miss the playoffs in the same season they won at least 10 straight games.

The Sabres followed their 10-game winning streak in November by closing the season winning 16 of their final 57 games, which led to coach Phil Housley's firing two years into his tenure.

The only downside during Skinner's career is the NHL's 2011 rookie of the year and two-time all-star selection has yet to appear in the playoffs since the Hurricanes selected him with the seventh pick in the 2010 draft.

Skinner's new contract means the Sabres have committed a combined $152 million to two forward after Eichel's eight-year, $80 million contract kicked in last year. Even with Skinner's addition, Buffalo is currently projected to have $22 million still available to spend this offseason under a salary cap expected to rise to $83 million.

The Sabres are expected to continue being active in free agency and the trade market this offseason in a bid to address a lack of secondary scoring. Skinner, Eichel and forward Sam Reinhart accounted for 90 of Buffalo's 226 goals last season.

Though Skinner became Buffalo's first player to score 40 goals since Thomas Vanek in 2008-09, his production tailed off over the final six weeks of the season. He went 13 games without a goal and scored just four times in his final 25 games.

Official Buffalo Sabres Release:

The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has signed forward Jeff Skinner to an eight-year contract with an average annual value of $9 million.

Skinner (5’11”, 187 lbs., 5/16/1992) led all Sabres with a career-high 40 goals during his first season with the Sabres in 2018-19. His 40-goal campaign was good for the third-highest total ever recorded by a first-year Sabre, and his 32 even-strength goals marked the highest total by a player in his first year with the team.

A native of Toronto, Ontario, Skinner has appeared in 661 games since entering the NHL in the 2010-11 season as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, totaling 442 points (244+198). Since joining the league, he is tied for 13th among all NHL skaters with 244 goals and ranks fifth with 191 even-strength markers.

Skinner was selected by Carolina in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie in the 2010-11 season and has twice been selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game (2011 and 2019).

In addition to his NHL accomplishments, Skinner has represented Canada at four IIHF World Championships, totaling 24 points (12+12) in 33 games and earning a silver medal at the 2017 tournament.

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