The Buffalo Sabres and forward Jeff Skinner have come to terms on an eight-year contract extension worth $72 million. This deal is set to account for $9 million annually against the salary cap. It’ll keep Skinner with the team through the 2026-27 season and will expire when he turns 35 years old.
Skinner was acquired by the Sabres ahead of the 2018-19 season in a move they wouldn’t regret given his immediate contributions to the team. In just his first season in Buffalo, Skinner scored a career-high 40 goals which was good for the third-highest goal-scoring total by a first-year Sabre in history. His 32 even-strength goals came in at No. 1 under the same criteria.
Skinner would also have 23 assists this past season, matching his career-high at 63 points in 82 games.
The seventh-overall pick from 2010, Skinner has consistently been among the NHL’s most productive goalscorers each and every season. He’s scored at least 20 goals in seven of his nine NHL seasons, including an injury-riddled 2011-12 season. One of the two seasons that saw him miss the 20-goal mark came during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.
In 661 career NHL games, Skinner has scored 244 goals and 442 points.
Sabres Take Care of Significant Offseason Task
This is a significant signing for the Sabres as they look to turn the corner on this rebuild and finally prove that they have what it takes to compete with the best teams in the NHL next season. It won’t be easy given the team’s obvious holes on defense and at goaltender, but signing Skinner was a great start for the club.
Other tasks that the Sabres have to address this offseason, outside of fixing their blue-line and netminder situations, include negotiating new deals for restricted free agents like Zemgus Girgensons, Johna Larsson, Evan Rodrigues, Jake McCabe and Linus Ullmark at the NHL level.
While there is a belief that Ullmark could be the goalie of the future for the Sabres, he’ll need to prove that more consistently at the NHL level if the team can justify giving him the full-time starting job after he posted a 15-14-5 record to go along with a 3.11 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 37 games last season.
There are many teams in the NHL who have drafted and developed their own internal prospects to become NHL powerhouses in recent history. The Sabres are well on their way to being the next team to do so but they’ll need to have the right supporting cast and coaching staff to do so.
Related: Sabres Hire Krueger as Head Coach
With Ralph Krueger taking over as head coach recently, the Sabres are looking to take a different approach to the game next season. Whether or not that approach pays off won’t be clear until the team takes to the ice next season, but it still feels like things are starting to fall in place for the Sabres who haven’t qualified for the postseason since the 2011 playoffs.