On Thursday night the Buffalo Sabres traded prospect Cliff Pu and three draft picks to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Jeff Skinner.
The move immediately improved the left wing for Buffalo, and made their top six much better. GM Jason Botterill has continued making moves after the Sabres lost Evander Kane and Ryan O’Reilly to trades. Buffalo may not be missing them too much, or at all, with what Botterill has done since.
He’s brought in Carter Hutton, Rasmus Dahlin, Matt Hunwick, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Conor Sheary, Tage Thompson, and Skinner.
— Sporting News Canada (@sportingnewsca) August 2, 2018
— Buffalo Wallpapers (@BuffaWallpapers) August 3, 2018
After all of that the Sabres STILL have three first-round draft picks in 2019.
Skinner has a solid NHL resume, and has already played eight full seasons and is just 26 years old. He was the 7th overall selection in the 2010 draft, and many are wondering why Carolina took this trade.
The only reason I can think of is that this will be the final year of Skinner’s contract. He’s making just under $6M and would be a free agent in the summer of 2019. Perhaps the Hurricanes know that they’d likely lose him to free agency, and in that case, would be getting something for him now instead of nothing for him later.
If that were the case, it was wise to at least get some potential players now and hope that Pu and picks pan out. Still, trading away a consistent scorer of that caliber for a small return looks really bad.
Skinner also had a no-move clause in his contract, which meant that he had to approve any sort of trade destination. With him wanting to come to Buffalo, there’s a good chance that talks have already began about extending his contract. Some have already called him a rental player for the Sabres, which would be fine. But this deal could become much bigger if he has a big year and the Botterill can keep him around for awhile.
— Sabres Goal a Day (@SabresGoalADay) August 2, 2018
Skinner put up 24 goals last season, and 37 the year before that. In 579 career games, he has 204 goals and 175 assists for 379 points. He is also a big weapon on the power play, another area where the Sabres could use some help.
This is one of Botterill’s best moves yet and fans should certainly be excited for Skinner. He’ll be one of many new players as the Sabres will sport a much different look this season.