Skinner’s time in Buffalo so far
Skinner arrived in Buffalo knowing he’d be certain of top-line minutes which was important to him. He’d been sliding down the pecking order in the City of Oaks so getting premier minutes at the top of the Sabres lineup in a contract year was something he was looking for. It was an opportunity given to Skinner to prove himself as an elite goal scorer in the NHL and he did everything in his power to prove that.
In his first year as a Sabre, he recorded 40 goals for the first time in his career and ended the season with 63 points. He hadn’t reached that point mark since he won the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie in 2010-11. It looked like Skinner was going to slot in perfectly to the Sabres system and that the Hurricanes didn’t get enough back for the Ontario native. This earned Skinner an 8-year, $72 million deal carrying a $9 million average annual value.
However, the 2019-20 season would bring everything back down to earth. In year one of his new deal, Skinner recorded just 14 goals and 9 assists for 23 points, a career-low at the time. This was in just 59 games as he missed time and the season was cut short to due the COVID-19 global pandemic. All of a sudden, the Skinner trade looked ingenious. It looked like management knew exactly what they were doing.
In the 2021 season, Skinner would record career lows across the board. Just 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points in 53 games. He was playing fourth-line minutes and was a healthy scratch at times. It looked like Skinner would never live up to the contract he was given when he got to the Sabres organization. However, the winger would bounce back later.
In this most recent season, Skinner tallied 33 goals. Not spectacular, but a lot better than what he was producing. However, he quietly matched the 63-point total he set in the year he scored 40 goals. He’s been getting better since the Sabres changed their coaching staff during the back half of the 2021 season. He’s now becoming an important part of the Sabres’ rebuild. Som what did Carolina get back for the former rookie of the year?