The Sabres have added to their forward group, announcing that they have acquired winger Jeff Skinner from Carolina. In return, the Hurricanes receive prospect winger Cliff Pu, a 2019 second-round pick, a 2020 third-round pick, and a 2020 sixth-rounder.
Skinner spent his entire eight-year career with Carolina and had been one of their more consistent scoring threats during that time. He had scored at least 20 goals in six of those seasons (and one of the years he didn’t was the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign).
He is, however, coming off of bit a quieter year by his standards. Last season, he played in all 82 games, tallying 24 goals and 25 assists which ranked him fourth in team scoring. That production was down considerably from 2016-17 when he posted a career-best 63 points.
It was a bit surprising how much the Hurricanes seemed to be interested in moving Skinner but with Don Waddell now at the helm of the franchise instead of former GM Ron Francis who was much more methodical, Carolina has been trying to shake up their roster this summer. This is the second significant move they’ve made this offseason with the other seeing defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Elias Lindholm shipped to Calgary for a package highlighted by blueliner Dougie Hamilton.
The Sabres likely will envision their new acquisition playing alongside Jack Eichel on a new-look top line. Eichel hasn’t had someone like Skinner to play with thus far in his career and the same can be said for Skinner not quite having someone like Eichel as his center. That combination should have Buffalo fans more enthusiastic heading into the season and if the two click, Skinner should be in line for quite the season as free agency approaches.
Buffalo is taking on Skinner’s full $5.725MM cap hit (with a $6MM salary). The winger also waived his no-move clause to facilitate a deal, something that Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer reported earlier this week was complicating their efforts to move him.
As for Pu, Carolina is bringing in a quality prospect who has been a productive OHL scorer since being drafted in the third round (69th overall) two years ago. He split last season between London and Kingston, combining to score 29 goals and 55 assists in 65 games. Pu is now signed to his entry-level deal and will likely start next season with Charlotte of the AHL.
It will be interesting to see if the Hurricanes look to replace Skinner outside of the organization now that they have some payroll freed up. Alternatively, they could look to second-overall pick Andrei Svechnikov to step in and play a top-six role right away. Either way, Carolina is going to look quite different when the puck drops on the new season in October.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.