On the surface, Jeff Skinner was traded from one team that perennially fails to make the playoffs to another in the same boat. So, what is it that makes Skinner so excited about joining the Buffalo Sabres after spending eight playoff-less seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes?
“First and foremost the young group of players they have, the young core, is exciting,” Skinner said on a conference call with reporters Friday, roughly 24 hours after the Sabres picked him up in exchange for one prospect and three future draft picks.
“There’s a lot of good young players, and I’m excited to join those guys and be a piece of the puzzle.”
Jeff Skinner checks a lot of boxes, and he’s now a Sabre: https://t.co/EbZWp5eSok pic.twitter.com/YGhrv0rmjI
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) August 3, 2018
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When asked about the possibility of playing on the same line as budding superstar Jack Eichel, Skinner did not take the bait for that being a given; but he did have plenty of positive things to say about his new teammate.
“He’s obviously one of the top centermen in the game right now,” Skinner said of Eichel. “Any time you get to play on a team with a guy that has that much talent — and he’s part of that young core, that exciting core — I’m so happy to be on his team, instead of playing against him.”
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Skinner is no greybeard himself. The 2011 Calder Trophy winner is only 26, though he already has 579 games of NHL experience. Yet, with youngsters like top overall pick Rasmus Dahlin, center Casey Mittelstadt, former second-overall selection Sam Reinhart, recently-acquired Tage Thompson and Eichel all under the age of 22, Skinner is a veteran on his new club.
“As you continue to mature as person and as a player, you want to pass on to young guys as much as you can anything you’ve picked up, anything that may help the team,” offered Skinner, who scored 24 goals last season in Carolina and has 204 in his career.
When you have trade difficulty set to ‘easy’. #NHL19 pic.twitter.com/vzVPezhSkJ
— #NHL19 (@EASPORTSNHL) August 2, 2018
Skinner downplayed the talk of this being a “fresh strart” for him, but admitted to being excited about “my first time going to a new organization.” A pending unrestricted free agent next summer, Skinner also sidestepped questions about the possibility of signing an extension with the Sabres during the season.
“This is something I’m looking forward to. I’m excited to start the season, that’s my focus.”