Friday was a big day for Sabres forward Jeff Skinner. Not only did Skinner return to Raleigh for the first time since being traded last offseason, he was named an NHL All-Star for the only the second time in his career.
Skinner, once the NHL’s youngest All-Star ever, returns to the game on the heels of having arguably the best start to a season in his career.
Through the first 44 games of the season, Skinner has put up an impressive 30 goals. Skinner’s performance has him second in the league in scoring – Alexander Ovechkin leads with 32 goals.
This 30-goal campaign marks the fourth time in Skinner’s career that he has had at least 30 goals in a season.
Skinner also became the first Sabres player since Jason Pominville in 2011-12 to score 30 goals in a season.
With 38 games remaining in the regular season, it appears that Skinner’s previous career-high of 37 goals in 2016-17 is on thin ice.
Due to the format of the All-Star Game, most teams find themselves with one representative – the same went for the Buffalo Sabres, when the first batch of All-Stars were announced.
Skinner was a part of the league’s “Last Men In” vote, which allowed fans to send one player from each division to San Jose later this month.
After being announced as the Atlantic Division winner, Skinner was elated and thankful for the support from Sabres fans.
“It just shows the passion and how much the fans love the Sabres,” Skinner told the media. “It’s a pretty cool feeling.”
For the Sabres, this is also a big moment. Sending Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner to the All-Star game marks the first time Buffalo has had multiple representatives at the NHL All-Star Game since 2007 in Dallas – Daniel Briere, Brian Campbell and Ryan Miller were representatives.
The All-Star selection for Skinner is just another checked box in a season that has truly become everything he could have hoped for, and then some.
Skinner took a shot on coming to Buffalo to play with a young, growing team and things appear to be working out just find for both parties.
To go further, recent reports paint a very good picture when it comes to Skinner extending his stay in Buffalo.
A source told me the #Sabres are expected to begin negotiating a long-term contract with Jeff Skinner "pretty soon." That follows the timeline GM Jason Botterill said previously.— Lance Lysowski (@LLysowski) January 11, 2019
With the NHL Trade Deadline on February 26 rapidly approaching, we are not talking about Skinner being dealt but the Sabres being allowed to offer Skinner an extra year once that deadline passes.
As many thought out of the gate, the Skinner / Sabres relationship is one that continues to pay dividends for all involved.