The Buffalo Sabres have announced the acquisition of forward Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for prospect Cliff Pu, a 2019 second round draft pick, and a third and sixth round pick in 2020.
The center/left wing enters his ninth season in the NHL as one of the most dependable and effective scorers in the Eastern Conference. Skinner scored 63 points in his Calder-winning rookie season, and has scored 49 or more points in five of his eight years in the league.
If fans were concerned that the departure of Ryan O’Reilly left a hole in the team’s lineup, surely Skinner fills that gap, and then some. His $6 million salary is a kinder hit to the salary cap, as well.
Despite a drop in scoring for the 2017-18 season, Skinner’s possession metrics were the best of his career. His face-off percentage saw a substantial jump, even with an increase in his offensive zone starts.
Carolina general manager Don Waddell says Buffalo offered the best value in return, and hopes Skinner can return to form in a new setting; telling NHL.com, “With Jeff becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer, this was the right time for us to move on, and to provide Jeff with a fresh start in Buffalo.”
Pu was a highly regarded prospect in the Sabres organization, but there is a substantial logjam at right wing that would have made it difficult for the young forward to break into the lineup. He’ll have a better opportunity to make a more immediate impact in Carolina.
In one of the slowest periods in the hockey offseason, this exciting trade will certainly make the coming weeks more interesting.