The Buffalo Sabres have found a winger to pair alongside superstar center Jack Eichel.
On Thursday, the Sabres completed a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes to acquire left winger Jeff Skinner in exchange for prospect Cliff Pu to go along with a second, a third and a sixth-round draft.
The #Canes have acquired Cliff Pu, Buffalo’s second-round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft and Buffalo’s third-round and sixth-round selections in the 2020 NHL Draft in exchange for Jeff Skinner. https://t.co/oEvNu3fqxH
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) August 2, 2018
Value-wise, this is a much-needed home run for Buffalo.
Skinner, the 2011 Calder Trophy winner and former All-Star, is a bonafide goal scorer. He’s scored at least 24 goals in three-straight seasons, including a career-high 37 in 2016-17. Skinner ranks seventh in the entire NHL in even-strength goals in the past three seasons. The 26-year-old is an excellent skater who has only been slowed down in his career by concussion issues.
Skinner will slot in perfectly alongside Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart on a nasty Sabres first line.
Buffalo gets Skinner at a severely discounted price for two reasons. Skinner’s got a no-movement clause, so dealing him wasn’t the easiest thing to do for GM Don Waddell. Furthermore, he’s a free agent at the end of next year and the team didn’t want to lose him without getting something in return. Still, it’s quite the coup for the Sabres to give up draft picks and a marginal prospect to get a top-line forward. It’s weird to say considering how bad they’ve been in the last decade, but the Sabres are going to be a lot of fun next year with Skinner, Eichel, Reinhart and number one overall pick Rasmus Dahlin.
So Skinner joins a BUF 2018-19 forward group that will look as follows (assuming my lines make some sense)
Vastly improved from a year ago really.
— Stephen Burtch (@SteveBurtch) August 2, 2018
It would not surprise me at all if Buffalo immediately engages in contract negotiations with Skinner if he’s open to signing an extension. He’s young enough to build with, but also old enough to give them a stable veteran presence. Things are, for once, looking up in Buffalo.
Carolina’s side of things is not so great. Unless Pu, drafted 69th overall by Buffalo in 2016, turns into a pro (which is possible), the return could yield little2 to no results. Giving up a top roster player and getting nothing that’s going to help next year is weird. Especially for a team that should at least challenge for a playoff spot.
Carolina was a bottom-1o team in scoring and it’s hard to say where goals are going to come from outside its top two lines. If Andrei Svechnikov, drafted second overall in the 2018 Draft, is ready for NHL duty, he could help fill the void left by Skinner. Good thing the Hurricanes’ defense is outstanding.
Three assets are three assets, and perhaps they move those for something more immediate. The move leaves Carolina with $18 million plus in cap space. Evaluating the deal now, they traded a beloved player who’s been with the Hurricanes for his entire career in exchange for some assets which might play out long-term. Again, it’s important to note Waddell was in a tough position considering the no-move clause, but he should have gotten much more for Skinner.
Buffalo fans should be absolutely ecstatic to give up nothing of note for one of the better goal scorers in the league. The move won’t propel them into playoff contention, but it makes them much more watchable. Hurricanes fans might want to hope another move is coming.