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Crunch time for Jeff Skinner?

Sabres could be nearing a deal with latest 40-goal scorer

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. 

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

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?

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