Congratulations, Jeff Skinner.
You are an NHL All Star for the first time in your impressive NHL career.
Good on you!
It makes it more special that the fans voted for you to be included in teh 2018 NHL All Star Game via the silly "Last Men In"
Per usuial, Sabres Nation has spoken.
You and Jack Eichel deserve this opportunity. You each have earned the accolades being heaped upon you by the fans and the NHL.
Like Eichel, you are a first line, first PP unit player. You are a leader. The Canes preferred to keep you in a conservative role at L3 LW. Not Phil Housley, who lets his wild horses run free and gives them the green light to create offense.
You have world class speed and horse power and you are finally being apprevciated for it by your coaches.
It is hard to ignore that you have scored 29 goals and 13 assists in your first 43 games in a Buffalo Sabres sweater.
It has to be especially gratifyng to you that on the day you are making your first visit to Raleigh since last August's trade that sent you from the Hurricanes to the Sabres. You were the best offensive player on the Carolina roster for the eight seasons you played there.
Then, new ownership and management chose to move in another direction.
New Canes owner Tom Dundon and his new GM Don Waddell opted to trade you away rather than invest in you long term. Sabres GM Jason Botterill should be arrested for grand larceny for litterally stealing you away from the Hurricanes in one of the most lopsided trades I have ever seen in my 45+ years watching the NHL. The trade read: Sabres acquire Jeff Skinner in exchange for a hockey mitt full of draft choices and forward prospect Cliff Pu, who has scored just one goal in 32 games played for the Charlotte Checkers this season.
Talk about highway robbery! I hear from a reputable source Botterill wore a ski mask to the trade call with Waddell.
What were the Hurricanes thinking?!
In 579 games over eight seasons with the Hurricanes, you scored 204 goals and 379 points. You were thee Canes' seventh overall pick from 2010 and became the first player in franchise history to win the Calder Trophy after a 31-goal and 63-point rookie season. You rank fifth in Canes history in goals, seventh in points and ninth in games played.
The Buffalo Sabres certainly value your scoring, playmaking and skating prowess.
Acquiring a multi-talented 30+ goal scorer in exchange for draft choices and a prospect is a genius play by Botterill. Unlike Waddell and Dundon, Botterill saw your intrinsic value. Phil Housley and Botterill knew you would be Jack Eichel's wingman extraordinaire. Trading for Jeff Skinner is the kind of astute move that transform a cellar dwelling losing team into a playoff team. To say nothing of earning Botterill GM of The Year nominations.
The change has clearly been good for you, Eichel and the Sabres.
If Buffalo had it's own paper currency, yours and Jack Eichel's smiling faces would be emblazoned on it for the world to see.
You trail only Alex Ovechkin for the NHL goal scoring lead. You have scored 23 even strength goals and 7 game winners. You are on pace to score 55 goals and 80 points this season while Eichel has 15 goals and 33 assists already this season. Combined, you and Jack will score over 160 points this season.
You had to leave the peaceful, quiet, anynonmous comfort and insulation of the Research Triangle in order to achieve your personal and professional goals. You are now closer to your hometown of Toronto and are playing in a sold out barn in front of the most rabid hockey zealots in the NHL. The national, international media and hockey fans all over the globe are finally seeing you for the star player you always have been.
Welcome to center stage. Time for you to take your bow and drink in the adulation and positive publicity. You have earned it.
Skinner has exceeded all expectations that were placed upon home when he was traded to Buffalo from Carolina last summer.
You are currently on pace to score the third-most goals in Buffalo Sabres franchise history, trailing only Alex Mogilny in 1992-93 (76 goals) and Danny Gare in 1979-80 (56 goals). Your 43 even-strength goals would finish behind only Mogilny’s even-strength total from 1992-93 (49) and Rick Martin’s 44 in 1973-74 for third-most in the 49 year history of the Sabres.
Your the first Sabres player with at least seven game winners in a season since Derek Roy (9) in 2008-09 and is four shy of matching the single-season franchise record of 11 shared by Danny Gare (1979-80) and Alexander Mogilny (1992-93).
You are now second in the NHL with three overtime goals this season. Your OTG total matches the Sabres’ single-season record shared by Daniel Briere (2006-07) and Derek Roy (2009-10) and ties him for 10th-most career overtime goals in franchise history.
You've only been a Buffalo Sabre for four months but it feels more like four years, right?
You were born to wear the crossed swords sweater.
Isn't it ironic on the one year anniversary of Tom Dundon taking over the ownership of the Hurricanes franchise that you are names an NHL All Star?
It's funny how Dundon and Waddell chose to trade you and your former Canes teammate Elias Lindholm, right? You and Lindholm have already combine to score 50 goals and 43 assists this season while the Hurricanes are currently searching for a "sniper" or two to score goals for Rod Brind'Amour's offensively anemic squad. The Canes enter tonight's tilt with the Sabres in 28th place in the NHL goal scoring department.
Betcha Waddell and Dundon want a mulligan on trading you and Lindholm away.
Carolina's loss is Buffalo's and Calgary's gain, right?
You don't know what you've got until its gone.
Earlier this week, your agent and Jason Botterill began the process of getting you signed to a long term contract extesnion to stay in Buffalo. You've taken Buffalo for a test drive. You'll sign a lucrative deal to remain a Sabres star for the next eight seasons. You are only 26 years old. You compliment Jack Eichel so very well. The Buffalo core with you in it is one of the best in the NHL with Rasmus Dahlin, Samson Reinhart, Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Ristolainen, Lawence Pilut, Jake McCabe, Tage Thompson, Carter Hutton, and Linus Ullmark. Next season you will be joined by future stars Alex Nylander, Brendan Guhle, Rasmus Asplund. Why leave Buffalo to pursue another opportunity in unrestricted free agency when you can earn $62 to $64 million playing on a winning Sabres team now and for year to come?
Here you are. About to rock Raleigh like a Hurricane!
Sabres fans are thanking you for waiving your no trade clause to accept the opportunity to play with Jack Eichel and the surging Sabres.
Go score a hat trick and lead your Sabres to victory tonight. Your team needs these two points to improve its position in the playoff race.
You won't be skating in front of 8,000 empty red seats tonight. As you have learned in yur short time in Buffalo, Sabres fans travel exceptionally well. Raleigh-Cary is one of Buffalo's biggest suburbs. It will not surprise me to see 13,000 Sabres fans in the barn tonight. Give them a great show!
Thanks, Carolina Hurricanes team website
Jeff Skinner met with media on Friday morning following the Sabres' morning skate.
The always humble and modest Skinner said he's been lucky to have found success in Buffalo.
"Fortunately for me, I've been on the right end of some plays,"
Jack Eichel will be back alongside Skinner and Tage Thompson tonight after missing the past four games with an upper body injury.
"He (Eichel) is a pretty good player, I guess," Skinner snarked. "He makes everyone around him better. I just try to find the spots, and usually he hits me."
Skinner said it will feel awkward skating against his friends and former teammates tonight.
"It's a little different," Skinner said. "It will be a little weird and different being on the visiting side, but I nothing but great memories."
Skinner became the scapegoat for a ninth straight season without a playoff berth.
Skinner said Friday that Buffalo wanted him at a time that he needed to feel wanted again. Skinner admitted that he and his agent studied Buffalo's organizational depth and the saw the high end talent that was already in place with the Sabres. He also huddled with his family to get their feedback on the Buffalo opportunity. To hear Skinner say it, the Sabres checked all of the boxes in terms of meeting and exceeding his expectations.
"That was the only team that I was approached about," Skinner said. "Sometimes both sides need a fresh start. It was clear that that was kind of the way it was going. There was good communication between my agent and the (Sabres) organization. It was done in a professional manner."
Roll the "Welcome back, Jeff Skinner" video tribute.
"Being 18 years old, playing my first pro hockey game, growing up with the fans and the community, all the teammates I had, the staff here in the organization, those are relationships that everyone talks about. For me being here as long as I was, you get to get to create more of those and longer-lasting ones," Skinner said. "Just everything, from the community to the organization to the fans, everything I look back on was a positive experience. A lot of good memories."
Asked about playing with Skinner, Jack Eichel said.
“He’s such a good guy and has a great attitude and comes to the rink and enjoys his time every day,” Eichel said. “He’s scored a lot of big goals for us and that doesn’t hurt. He’s so strong around the net, has great hands and he’s so good on his edges that he’s able to maneuver around and get through traffic pretty well.”