2021 Player Report Card: Jeff Skinner

Sabres forward had an overall disappointing season

I remember watching the Blue/Gold scrimmage and thinking that Skinner was in for a bounce back year with the Buffalo Sabres.

I was wrong.

Total Season stats: 53 GP, 7 G, 7 A, 14 PTS

Age: 29

Contract Status: 6 years, 9 million AAV

There’s no denying that Skinner was asked to play in a role that he was not accustomed to under Ralph Krueger where he was relegated to the fourth line and asked to carry the offensive burden with teammates that were not up to the caliber of player Skinner has played with in the past. Which, in turn, has seen a massive decline in some of his counting stats.

He played the least TOI/GP since his rookie year. His shots/60 were at it’s lowest point since his rookie year. He did not create nearly as many rebounds off his shots as his lowest year (which, coincidently, was his first year in Buffalo). His 6.3% shooting percentage is the lowest of his career.

For a player with the second highest salary on the team he was not able to product at a level that warrants the contract. Of that we all know.

His advanced metrics weren’t terrible, though. His RAPM chart is positive, and even more so when you consider how bad the Sabres were this year.

He was fourth on the team in GAR:

And middle of the pack in xGAR:

He was consistently a positive influence on his linemates in improving their CF% and their xGF% when he was on the ice with them compared to when he was not.

At the end of the day, Skinner is going to have a hard time earning his contract if he can’t find a way to put the puck into the back of the net like he did 5v5 two years ago. Like Taylor Hall, there was times when Skinner just couldn’t buy a goal. If I could sum up Skinner’s season in one video it would be the stick-less breakaway against the Rangers that led to a goal going the other way.

If we end up losing Eichel, then one of the primary goals (especially given his contract) will be to try to find a way to get Skinner back on at least a 20 goal pace going forward.

While it’s tempting to give him the worst letter grade: I also have to factor in the role he was asked to play and the mental state of being in Krueger’s doghouse for the entirety of his tenure this season.

Season Grade: D

How would you grade Jeff Skinner’s Season?