Bu Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 33: August 2, 2018 – The Sabres trade Cliff Pu, a second-round draft choice in 2019, a third-round draft choice in 2020, and a sixth-round draft choice in 2010 to Carolina for Jeff Skinner.
The Sabres knew they had an outstanding young center in Jack Eichel in the summer of 2018. They also knew they wanted to acquire someone to take Eichel’s passes and turn them into goals. General manager Jason Botterill thought he knew who could fill the bill.
Jeff Skinner had been an instant hit in 2010-11, winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s rookie of the year. He was a good scorer for the next seven seasons as well, but the team had never made the playoffs during his tenure and he thought it was time to move on. Besides, Skinner’s contract would expire in the summer of 2019. That led to the Sabres sending a package of mostly draft choices to the Hurricanes for the veteran. Once Skinner was placed on Eichel’s line, the pair clicked. Skinner became one of the league’s leading goal scorers in 2018-19, and his new fans spent the winter urging the Sabres to re-sign him to a new contract at almost any price.
What’s more, the Sabres listened. They signed him to an eight-year, $72 million contract. We’ll see how that works out down the road. But he figures to receive a warm reception on Opening Night this fall.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)