With the official end of the NHL 2018-19 season nearing, Sabres fans have had their minds wrapped around what the team could look like if Jeff Skinner elects not to re-sign.
There are a few weeks until free agency arrives, but general manager Jason Botterill has shown confidence that a deal will get done.
Dreger – That extra year in negotiations 100-percent matters, and that's where the #Sabres are coming from.. My sense is that the negotiations is over, and it's up to Jeff Skinner to make a decision.
— WGR 550 (@WGR550) June 7, 2019
A week later than perhaps I expected, but it sounds like the Jeff Skinner contract negotiations are down to crunch time. My sense is he’ll either get a deal done in the next day or two or head off to UFA. If it gets done, I’d presume it to be 8 years at around $9M AAV.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 6, 2019
Since the 2016-17 season, Auston Matthews leads the NHL in goals scored 5v5 in the regular season. Also realize that he has the lowest TOI of the names on this list.
Side note: Jeff Skinner is 3rd. Just for all those people saying he shouldn't get a significant pay raise. pic.twitter.com/GZw0wDa95L
— ryan (@_Ryan81_) June 6, 2019
Ralph Krueger says he’s confident Jeff Skinner will be back with #Sabres bc of tone of their conversation and how Skinner talked about the future. Krueger adds Skinner never changed path of convo even when opportunity presented itself.
— Jon Scott (@JonScottTV) June 5, 2019
Skinner is 27 years old and is likely going to get a long-term deal whether it’s with Buffalo or another team. The Canadian forward reached the 40-goal plateau last season for the first time in his career, and 32 of those goals came at even strength. His previous high was 37 goals two years prior with the Carolina Hurricanes.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 7, 2019
New head coach Ralph Krueger also said he believes Skinner will remain in Buffalo due to the positive talks they had since he took the job.
Heading into the 2019-20 season without Skinner would give the organization a huge need at forward, while they already have problems to address. Botterill is also entering his third season at the helm and many believe this may be on the hot seat if the team’s performance is lacking once again, especially after watching what Ryan O’Reilly has done for the St. Louis Blues.
The Sabres sent O’Reilly to St. Louis for Tage Thompson, Vladimir Sobotka, Patrik Berglund, a 1st in 2019 and a 2nd in 2021.
While big names may be available in free agency, the Sabres have arguably the biggest in their own hands, and not getting a deal done may be a huge mistake. The cost will likely near $10M a year, maybe a bit under, but locking up a player likely in/entering his prime who just scored 40 goals is worth it.
The Sabres have the cap room and have seen what Skinner can do in Buffalo, but now we wait. Do the two sides hammer out the details and get this done?