The Buffalo Sabres acquisition of winger Jeff Skinner only suggests to a defeated Buffalo fanbase that the Sabres intend to shake things up and improve on their inability to even reach the playoffs since the 2010-11 season. However, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News takes it a step further as he suggests that general manager Jason Botterill and the Sabres fleeced the Carolina Hurricanes in their stealing of Skinner and it shows how Buffalo means business.
The key to the deal is the fact that Buffalo didn’t give them anything off their current rosters for a top-line left wing. The only player they did hand over will be playing in the NHL next season. Of the picks that Botterill did give to Carolina, the GM didn’t give up one of the three first-rounders that Buffalo has in the 2019 draft. And for Buffalo, Harrington writes, it’s a no-lose for the Sabres. If Skinner signs a long-term deals, they win. If they trade him at the deadline, they should be able to get a similar return than what they paid for him in the first place.
- The Athletic’s Jon Vogl (subscription required) writes that Skinner is currently focused on getting integrated in Buffalo and coach Phil Housley’s system and his mind is not on his contract. The 26-year-old has said he is not focused on his contract. “Our focus with Jeff is to make this transition into Buffalo as easy as possible for him,” general manager Jason Botterill said, “for him to get settled in, focused in on the start of the season, go through the process here for him to get to know his teammates, get to know Phil (Housley), get to know myself, and we’ll talk about things such as extensions or contract down the road.”
- The Athletic’s Joe Yerdon writes that there is little movement on a contract for Sabres’ restricted free agent Sam Reinhart. Botterill said the team would be waiting until all arbitration cases are completed, which suggests that Reinhart and his camp wanted to see how everyone did before agreeing to a new deal. Reinhart is coming off a career-high 25 goals and 50 points.
- In another Yerdon piece, the scribe writes that the Sabres are expecting a lot of development from their defensemen now that they have assistant coach Steve Smith aboard for this upcoming season. The former Carolina Hurricanes’ assistant is well known for working well with young defensemen including Justin Faulk, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin and Noah Hanifin to name a few. He could have a positive affect on a number of players in Buffalo, including Rasmus Dahlin, Rasmus Ristolainen, Nathan Beaulieu, Marco Scandella and Brendan Guhle.
- Scott Billeck of NBC Sports writes that this will be a big year for high-priced winger Kyle Okposo to prove himself. After suffering through two major concussions over the past two years, the 30-year-old needs a bounce back season after posting just 34 goals over the past two seasons. He’s likely going to start on the team’s second-line next to rookie center Casey Mittelstadt. However, he must show he can stay healthy to even come close to showing he’s worthy of the $6MM AAV he’s carrying for the next five years.