Skinner's top priority in Buffalo is winning

The newly re-signed Sabres forward joined Howard and Jeremy on Wednesday

Howard & Jeremy | Weekdays 6a-10a
June 12, 2019 - 10:22 am

Photo: Harry How - Getty Images

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After being acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes last offseason, Jeff Skinner tallied a career-year for the Buffalo Sabres with 40 goals and 63 points in 82 games. The 27-year-old also earned an All-Star appearance in his one season on the Sabres.

Heading into the offseason, Skinner was set to become an unrestricted free agent with his contract set to expire on July 1. However, the Sabres and Skinner came to terms on a contract extension late Friday night that will keep him in Buffalo for the next eight years.

It may have seemed like a long and carried out process to get an extension finalized, but in the end, Buffalo is where Skinner wanted to be.

“When you go through the whole process, you try to weigh options and try to sort of reflect on how it’s going as much as you can when you’re going through it,” Skinner said with Howard Simon and Jeremy White on Wednesday. “I don’t think it ever really got to the point where things were negative, I think everything was positive... It was all positive and I’m happy with the way it ended up.”

In signing with the Sabres, Skinner prioritized winning over all else. He acknowledged that while last season ended poorly, there are some positives about last season in general and the organization in its current state.

“I want to win,” Skinner said. “When you look at the whole process, that’s at the top of my list in being a priority... There is some young talent, the new coach is exciting. I think that there’s a lot of positive things and the organization is heading in the right direction. For me, I’m excited to just be a piece of the puzzle and try to help everyone reach our goal.”

The new coach Skinner referenced is Ralph Krueger. Upon hearing that Krueger was hired, players reached out to Skinner to express how positive, smart and passionate Krueger is behind the bench. Skinner did have the chance to talk with Krueger shortly after he was hired, and he raved about the first impressions he got of his head coach.

“In the short conversation we had, it was the excitement he had that he was getting to be a part of the organization, getting back to the NHL and the passion he has for hockey [that stood out],” Skinner said. “It kind of goes without saying that he’s very smart, he knows the game, he’s been in a lot of situations that he’s probably going to be able to learn from.”

Sabres captain Jack Eichel also played a role in Skinner’s signing with the Sabres. The winger spent a good portion of the season playing on a line with Eichel, and had a great deal of success playing on his left wing. Even though Eichel was participating in the IIHF World Championship, his spot on the roster alone helped to influence Skinner to re-sign with the Sabres.

“He’s one of the best players in the league,” Skinner said. “Any time you have that on your team it gives you a better chance than if you didn’t. He’s an important part of our team, a huge part. In terms of looking at the team and what makes it attractive for people to play [in Buffalo], he’s definitely in the ‘positive’ category.”

Going into next season, Skinner is not looking to change his approach. Even though he is now locked up for another eight seasons in Buffalo, his mindset will still be as if he’s on a one-year contract.

“Going into this year, I’m not looking to change anything,” Skinner said. “I’m just trying to keep learning and growing as a player and person. I think that we got a lot of great people in the organization and a lot of people that I’m going to continue to learn from.”

You can listen to the entire interview below:

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