One of this summer’s biggest free agents is now off the market.
According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, the Sabres and Jeff Skinner have agreed to an eight-year, $72 million extension to keep the star forward in Buffalo. Skinner, who had a career-best 40 goals in 2018-19, was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
BUF and Jeff Skinner, who is a pending UFA, are closing in on an eight-year extension. It’s expected to have an AAV of $9M or thereabouts.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 8, 2019
The team and Skinner had been in intense negotiations for some time now and the sense around the league was that a deal would be made soon or the nine-year veteran was going to test the open market in just a few weeks. It’s a big score for Jason Botterill and new head coach Ralph Kruger to hold on to Skinner to help build around budding superstar Jack Eichel. It was a move that had to be made after Skinner tied his career high in points with 63 on year.
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Skinner was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes at the start of last year after spending the first eight seasons of his career with the Canes. The former 7th-overall pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft scored 32 of his 40 goals in five-on-five play for a team that ranked near the bottom of the league in goals scored. His 63 points were third on the team behind Eichel’s 85 and Sam Reinhart’s 65. His 40 goals were 12 higer than Eichel as they did a majority of the goal scoring for the Sabres.
The Sabres still have a lot of work to do after finishing with just 33 wins and 76 points last season. However, this is a big step in what the Sabre faithful hope is a return to the playoffs.