The Buffalo Sabres placed a bet on Jeff Skinner over the summer, and it’s paying off in spades.
The talented winger is taking full advantage of a fresh start in his contract year to pile up goal after goal for his new team, which may mean he’ll be in line for a massive payday on an extension.
“You would think so, and yet if I were a team I’d say, ‘Okay, look at history here,’” cautioned Bob McKenzie during a Wednesday radio hit on Montreal’s TSN 690. “And history is that Jeff Skinner entered the league with a tremendous amount of promise; really gifted offensive player who scored goals early in his career, and got a real nice contract.
“At the time he got his deal, he was getting the same sort of deal - within reason of it, anyway - as the Taylor Halls and Jordan Eberle and John Tavares. That six-year deal at 6 or just a shade under 6. And then for much of that contract, there was a lot of buyer’s regret because he wasn’t producing consistently.
“So for me, Jeff Skinner is a really gifted player. And when he’s hot, he’s really, really hot. But there have been significant chunks of time in his career when he’s not hot. And some of that’s been injury-related, in fairness to him, and some of it was concussion-related and what have you.
“Again, we sometimes get seduced on ‘he’s on pace for…’ Everybody is always on pace for ridiculous numbers, and then the NHL kind of beats you up over the long haul. So I’ll be curious to see what Skinner ends up with. But I mean, with this tear he’s on and the tear the Sabres are on is absolutely incredible.
“I saw people saying, ‘He’s going to get $9 million or $10 million,’ and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Man, I’d be curious to see what team is going to ante up that much money for a goal-scoring winger.’
“If you’re convinced that what he’s doing right now is what he’s going to be able to do for the next number of years - yeah, sure, those numbers apply. But I think there’s been enough inconsistency in his career where there’s a little bit of buyer beware in terms of the really big numbers.
“But at the end of the day, as long as you score in your contract year, you are going to get paid in free agency, no doubt about it.”
Skinner’s expiring contract is a six-year deal with a $5.725 million cap hit.
He has 19 goals through 25 games, 13 of which have come in November.
Contract-related info via CapFriendly