Buffalo Sabres should be cautious with Jeff Skinner contract talks

Jeff Skinner #53 of the Buffalo Sabres before the game against the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)
Jeff Skinner #53 of the Buffalo Sabres before the game against the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images) /

Skinner has been a difference maker for the Buffalo Sabres this season and the pending free agent will be looking for a pay raise for his production.

There is no denying the impact Jeff Skinner is having for the Buffalo Sabres this season and the big question that will be on everyone’s mind is how much the team will be willing to pay to keep that production around long-term?

Skinner has 26 goals in 37 games this season (as of Dec. 27) already surpassing last year’s total of 24 and on his way to surpassing the 37 goals he had in the 2016-17 season. Whether the pace he’s scoring at is sustainable remains to be seen but if he hits 50 goals, many will wonder what Buffalo decides to do about his future.

He certainly has the leverage as an unrestricted free agent to wait as long as he wants for the right deal, or the Sabres can try to get it done before it comes to that. While it might be smart to try and get ahead, Buffalo can’t be too eager to hand out a shiny new contract to the 26-year-old.

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This has more to do about his history than what he’ doing this season because one thing Skinner has been able to avoid so far is getting injured. He’s had concussion problems in the past and that’s something that has to be taken to into account.

So what should the Sabres be looking at in a potential contract extension with Skinner? Well, TSN’s Darren Dreger spoke about that possibility saying that if Buffalo wants to get him for the next eight seasons then Skinner could ask for $8 million.

Is that a realistic number for the top line winger? It is tough to see him being that valuable considering he hasn’t proven to be an elite player for a consistent period.

However, if the starting price is $8 million than the Sabres could try to work him down. The money isn’t the tough part of this negotiation as Buffalo needs to be careful with the term in this deal. While they don’t have a lot of commitments right now but eventually they will need to keep contracts in mind for some of their younger players.

Maybe signing Skinner to an eight-year deal allows Buffalo to keep the cap hit lower and gives them some wiggle room. One thing is for sure, this is an important negotiation for the Sabres and they should proceed with caution.

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What do you think Skinner should get in his next contract? Should the Sabres try to get him locked up now or should they wait until the end of the season? Let us know in the comments below.