Dreger: There's 'mutual interest' between Skinner and the Sabres to get an extension done

TSN's Darren Dreger discussed the latest on Jeff Skinner's extension talks on NBCSN on Wednesday night

Brayton Wilson
December 20, 2018 - 6:32 am

Photo: Kim Klement - USA TODAY Sports

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In his first season with the Buffalo Sabres, Jeff Skinner has flourished playing alongside Jack Eichel on his left wing.

The 26-year-old has re-gained his scoring touch in Buffalo, netting 25 goals through 35 games this season. At this rate, Skinner is on pace to finish the 2018-19 season with 59 goals, which would shatter his career-high of 37 back in the 2016-17 season. He has scored 30 or more goals three times throughout the course of his nine-year career, and is well on his way to achieve that mark for a fourth time.

This season has been a big one for Skinner with his production taking a major turn northbound. On July 1, the scoring winger is set to become an unrestricted free agent when his current contract expires. However, the Sabres are hoping that Skinner can come to terms on a new contract extension with the team before that time comes this summer.

On Wednesday, TSN's Darren Dreger made an appearance on NBCSN during the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals telecast. Dreger has said that while contract negotiations have not started between both sides, there appears to be interest in getting a new contract extension signed at some point before he gets to free agency.

"The agreement prior to the start of the year was that they'd allow Jeff Skinner to get comfortable to the Buffalo Sabres, and the Sabres would get comfortable with Jeff Skinner. Well obviously, they're comfortable with each other," Dreger said. "This guy is scoring at a torrid pace with 25 goals right now. He's always been a high chance guy. We could see that when he was with the Carolina Hurricanes. Perhaps the difference now is the quality of the chances, and that helps when you're playing with a superstar like Jack Eichel who has really elevated his game.

"There is a mutual interest in getting something done, but my sources indicate that they need to get through the holiday season. Perhaps the discussions, and maybe the heavy lifting of the negotiations get underway mid-January, certainly before the trade deadline, but it's important to note that if anybody speculates that Jeff Skinner could be in play, he also has a full trade clause, and I know he wants to stay in Buffalo."

According to Cap Friendly, the Sabres will have a little more than $22.9 million of cap space once the team gets to July 1, 2019. Skinner's current cap hit of $5.725 million is likely to increase with his next contract, and could reach $7 million or greater if he keeps pace with his production this season.

The Sabres acquired Skinner this past August in a trade with the Hurricanes in exchange for prospect Cliff Pu, a 2019 second round pick, a 2020 third round pick and a 2020 sixth round pick.

As a rookie in the 2010-11 season, Skinner scored a total of 31 goals and registered 63 points en route to winning the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year. In 614 career games with the Hurricanes and Sabres, Skinner has scored 229 goals and picked up 187 assists for 416 points.

Keep it locked to WGR and WGR550.com for the latest on the Sabres.

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