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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our thoughts on Jeff Skinner's eight-year, $72 million extension with the Buffalo Sabres.
It might seem like an overpayment on the surface but I think the contract is fairly easy to justify when you dig a little bit deeper.
Notable pending UFAs are always expensive, as are elite goal scorers. Jeff Skinner happened to be both.
Only Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid managed more 5v5 goals and/or scoring chances over the last three seasons. Skinner can clearly score, and generate opportunities, with the best of them.
Keep in mind Skinner's three most frequent centers, in order, during that three-year window were Derek Ryan, Victor Rask and, finally, Jack Eichel.
Skinner brings a lot of value to the table beyond goals as well. He's an effective possession driver, and he draws a *ton* of penalites (only four players drew more from 2016-19).
Skinner is a very solid player and he should continue to be so for the foreseeable future alongside Eichel.
For a Sabres team a) swimming in cap space and; b) lacking high-end talent, paying up to keep Skinner around is the right thing to do.
This contract is reasonable. Skinner is 27, the money is fair for 40 goals, and he's one of the best even-strength producers there is. The only think I don't like about this is that if they signed him last year (and maybe that wasn't possible) it would have been so much cheaper. Still, you can't complain too much when you lock up one of the best players in the NHL to an fair deal. Yeah, the last couple years will probably suck, but Buffalo looks like a 95% chance to win a Cup before then, so who cares?
Some might scoff at the idea of Skinner getting 9 million and perhaps they should because it seems like classic overpayment to stay in a less than desirable market. Now ask this- what else would Buffalo be able to attract or add with that money? Part of this is safety and risk management but how much did Botteril pay attention to details?
Well perhaps he did. Before Skinner was traded he came off his second lowest individual shooting percentage outside of the lockout season. This past season was his second highest behind his rookie season and just above two years ago. His 5v5 points were the same as two years ago when he was with Caroliina and tied his rookie season. His on-ice performance with rest of the team is not so high from past years that it causes concern early.
The fact is when I did a quick look it seems Botteril paid for a high year in contract year but in actuality it seems that Carolina may have jumped the gun in a trade last year and gotten more had they had Skinner when he rebounded. 9 Million may be a touch high but if Skinner holds to this level for half of those years we won't be cursing this deal soon.
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