Dreger updates contract talks between Sabres, Skinner

Nothing may be imminent, but it’s sounding like the Sabres are working feverishly to get Jeff Skinner locked up to a contract extension before the trade deadline.

Darren Dreger had a Friday morning radio hit on Buffalo’s WGR 550.

During a larger discussion on the Sabres, the Insider revealed his latest thoughts on what’s going on with that particular contract situation.

“My sense is Botterill and company, they’re working pretty aggressively with Newport to try and come to terms with Jeff Skinner,” indicated Dreger. “I’m not saying that a deal is imminent, but I know that it’s top priority for Botterill and the Sabres now.”

The conversation zoomed in on Skinner at this point, with the Insider basically being asked about the dynamics of any potential decision needing to be made by the Sabres regarding Skinner - a pending unrestricted free agent - as the February 25 trade deadline approaches.

“I don’t think that they’re there yet,” noted Dreger. “I think it’d be real tough, wouldn’t it, to roll the dice.But in saying that, the gap would have to be like the grand canyon to make a determination that you’re just not going to be able to get it done.

“And you can also in the process get a feel for what the player is thinking. If the player tells you - and I’m not saying Skinner has hinted this at all, I’d be surprised if he has - if you get the sense from the player or his representative that there’s a strong chance that this guy wants to test free agency, well isn’t that a pretty big red flag for the management group.

“Where then you go, ‘Alright, we’re not playing that game. We’ve made our best offer. If you’re not willing to work off that, then we’ve got no choice. We’ve got to maximize our property and our asset here.’

“I don’t feel that with the Skinner negotiation, and it’s pretty obvious why. He’s been such a good fit with the Buffalo Sabres, and Jack Eichel is deserving of a fair bit of credit as to why, but the Sabres have been a great fit for Jeff Skinner. Why would you rock the boat by going into free agency when you’ve got a best-case scenario. He’s going to get the term. He’s going to get the money. And he’s got the hockey side covered with Buffalo.

“So I’d be really surprised if they can’t come to terms.”

Skinner is in the final season of a six-year, $34.35 million contract, which carries a $5.725 million cap hit, and also includes a no-move clause.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly