Sabres' Botterill is happy the lengthy talks got him Skinner

Jason Botterill said adding more speed was essential

Paul Hamilton
August 02, 2018 - 10:39 pm

Photo: Dennis Schneidler - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - The Sabres didn’t just start talking to Carolina about Jeff Skinner. These discussions have been going on for over three months and Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said, “We talked a lot of different scenarios over the last couple of months, just where his team was at and different things we did with our trades and we just kept the dialog going and today we’re extremely excited to bring Jeff on board.”

Skinner never played in the minors and came into the NHL at the age of 18. At 26-years-old, he’s played 579 NHL games and Botterill said he knows what the league is all about, “I respect his work ethic a lot off the ice, his professionalism and how he goes about handling himself.

“We’ve talked a lot about our group being more competitive and playing with more pace and that’s right up Jeff’s game.”

Botterill promised changes and so far, Ryan O’Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner, Victor Antipin, Benoit Pouliot, Justin Falk, Josh Gorges, Jacob Josefson and Chad Johnson are all gone. Botterill said, “When you finish 31st, you have to make changes. There was a lot of disappointment within our locker-room and here’s a player that’s going to come in and help right away.”

In the past three seasons, Skinner is seventh in the NHL in even-strength goals. Botterill said, “You look at our even-strength scoring here in Buffalo and it has to improve and he creates a lot of chances at even-strength and I think he’s going to compliment our talented centers.”

Botterill believes adding talent with speed is going to produce much better results. The GM said, “We had to find ways to create more offense and create more chances and I think with a healthier defense this year with Bogosian and McCabe, it’s going to help us move the puck up quicker and a young player like Rasmus Dahlin coming into our group, hopefully we’ll spend more time in the offensive zone than the defensive zone.”

The Sabres gave up three draft picks, but they still have their three No. 1 picks for next season. Botterill said that’s important, “What excited us about this acquisition is we’re bringing in a player that has a track record of success in the National Hockey League and we were able to hold on to our four first round picks over the next two years.”

Skinner is going into the final year of a six-year contract. Botterill said he has not discussed an extension with his new winger, “Jeff did have a full no trade and for him to come to Buffalo, you have to have players that are excited about being in your city.”

Botterill said there’s no update on talks with restricted free agent Sam Reinhart, but he said talks have progressed positively.

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