The Buffalo Sabres will get an extra protection slot at this month’s expansion draft after Jeff Skinner agreed to waive his no-movement clause according to John Vogl of The Athletic. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams requested it on Tuesday morning and Skinner agreed, allowing the team to protect an extra forward.
Skinner, 29, is an unlikely target for the Seattle Kraken, given his high price and poor production the last two seasons. Since signing an eight-year, $72MM contract in 2019, the winger has scored just 21 goals and 37 points in 112 games. He had just 14 points this past season, spending much of it on the fourth line. His no-movement clause would have forced the Sabres to protect him over a player like Rasmus Asplund, who is a more likely target for expansion.
This is a pretty big gesture of good faith from Skinner, who certainly didn’t need to waive a clause that the Sabres knowingly gave him just two years ago. The move does not waive the clause for the purpose of a trade, only to stop the automatic protection in the draft. But still, selfishly, it may have benefitted Skinner to see the Sabres lose a younger player like Asplund or Anders Bjork who could be battling for the same top-six ice time next season.
The Sabres already had plenty of options to fill the exposure requirements at forward, but Skinner will now be added to that group. It is interesting to wonder about the connection between the forward and Kraken GM Ron Francis from their time together in Carolina, but it still seems unlikely that the expansion club would want to take on his $9MM cap hit. That deal has proven to be one of the worst in the entire NHL, though there is obviously production still in there if the team finds a way to unlock it.
Sure, Skinner was given this contract after a career year where he scored 40 goals, but it’s not like he hadn’t come close to those numbers before. He reached the 30-goal mark on three other occasions and even scored 37 in the 2016-17 season. A brilliant skater and talented finisher, if the Sabres can find a way to mitigate his weaknesses while promoting his strengths, there is still time to get some value back.