This article continues a list of potential free agents the New York Islanders could look to target in free agency. Today’s target: Jeff Skinner.
To start, I’m aware Buffalo and Skinner are deep in talks right now but until there’s pen to paper, we’re all free to speculate.
WHY IS HE A FIT?
As the case with Matt Duchene and Joe Pavelski, who I mentioned as potential targets in earlier articles, obviously Skinner would add offensive depth. But what Skinner specifically is able to add is hard to come by– goal scoring. Skinner had 40 of his 63 points this year come from goals, which was good enough for 12th in the NHL. Add in that Skinner just turned 27 years old and he’s the perfect signing age for a UFA. Skinner would be able to provide a massive boost offensively and would instantly help the Islanders up front.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS?
There are a few. To start, Skinner has been inconsistent from season to season in terms of production. Here is a breakdown of his goals and points per 82 game average in each of his NHL seasons:
At Skinner’s peak, producing between 35-40 goals and 60-65 points, he’s a huge addition. But just last year, Skinner had 49 points and three years before that, averaged just 33 points per 82 games. He’s hit the 60-point mark in four of his nine NHL seasons but he’s also produced just 51 points or less in four of those seasons as well. If you look at his production recently, it looks much better but through a career-based scope, he’s lacked consistency between seasons. Also say what you will about plus/minus as a stat (and the fact that Skinner has never been on a team to reach the playoffs says something about the talent of the teams he was on) but Skinner has been at least a minus-14 in four different seasons, hitting the minus-20 mark in three of them.
So if Skinner lacks consistency, hopefully this would be balanced out with a reasonable contract…
WHAT COULD THE DEAL LOOK LIKE?
You can almost classify this category as a problem on it’s own as well. Skinner is rumoured to be negotiating around $9M per year on an eight-year deal with Buffalo. If $9M per year isn’t enough to convince Skinner to stay with the only team that can give him an extra year of that money, it’s going to result in a huge overpayment in free agency. There’s no denying that Skinner had an excellent season and at his best, there aren’t many better goal scorers in the NHL. But if it’s going to cost $9M or more to attract Skinner in free agency, that’s a hefty price to pay. Should Skinner actually hit free agency, the Islanders will have to judge how much they’re willing to pay for goal scoring.