The 3-2-1

The latest on the Jeff Skinner saga

Jeremy White
June 04, 2019 - 6:47 pm

Photo: Eric Bolte - USA TODAY Sports

This is the 3-2-1, a quick rundown of points that hopes to raise awareness for the NHL's desperate need to switch to the 3-2-1 point system.  

Today's edition of the 3-2-1 is all about Jeff Skinner.

 

3.) The ghost of contracts past

We’re hearing a lot these days that the Buffalo Sabres have to be careful about signing Skinner to a long-term deal, because in years six, seven, and eight, it could be a problem.  Yes, that is true.

But... may I submit that maybe it’s time for the Sabres to actually regret a deal in year six instead of almost immediately? Through this debate we’re hearing the usual cast of characters named, the UFA minefield with:

  • Ville Leino
  • Matt Moulson
  • Christian Ehrhoff
  • (and some even going with RFA) Cody Hodgson

These players were bought out or sent away by the Sabres, and will forever represent the fear of spending money and committing. Do you remember these players?

Leino was a bust in Year 1. He finished his first season with the Sabres as a 25-point player with only eight goals. Year 2? Two goals in eight games. Year 3? That was the year of Trending Buffalo’s Leino Lottery where he finished the season with zero goals in 58 games! Can I go back in time and order up four-to-five years of success?

Christian Ehrhoff’s huge contract was… wait a minute, he doesn’t belong here because it was a good contract and he was good.

Next!

Matt Moulson’s five-year, $25 million contract was signed as he entered his age 31 season. Year 1? 13 goals. Year 2? TOAST! An eight-goal second season, a 14-goal third season and then catapulted to California in Year 4 of the five-year deal. He was 34-years-old. That’ll be Skinner’s seventh year if they sign a big long one.

"WHAT IF SKINNER HITS THE WALL IN YEAR 7?!?!?!" HANG A BANNER!

Cody Hodgson? He signed a six-year deal for money that looks reasonable by today’s standards, but at the time had a bit of a "you paid him how long and what now?” Year 1? 20 goals. Year 2? Six. Year 3? He played for Nashville! Holy cow, can I get a contract where a player is good for two years?!

Holy cow, the scary stories we’re telling about Skinner show just how bad it’s been for the Sabres in free agency/extension land. Heap a few more on the pile, right? Myers. Heck, Ryan O'Reilly. Nothing has worked so you're kinda scared, I get it.  

I forgot Kyle Okposo, right? Let’s toss him in too. Okposo has registered seasons of 19, 15, and 14 goals in his three seasons with the Sabres. He might still be serviceable as a role player on this team. It’d be tough to expect him to crest over the 20-goal mark again as he’ll be 31 heading into this season and hasn’t seen the 20-goal mark in his time in Buffalo. This deal is currently the Sabres' worst, and it isn’t even that bad.

Should they sign Skinner? Yeah, probably. I get the fear mixed in… but I think we should all take five years of success and six, seven, and eight being a train wreck. Heck, it’d more than double the returns of the last few runs at this.

***

2.) Ralph Krueger's first job

Krueger is in town and will meet with the media on Wednesday. His first big job is convincing Jeff Skinner to re-sign. Right? This is the guy that’s a leader of men. He’s the one that connects with everyone he sees and speaks to. I like the Sabres' hiring of Krueger as head coach, and he’ll be a part of wooing any and all free agents. I wrote about it a few weeks ago, but I think Krueger holds more hockey cache than Botterill does. He might be the selling point for guys like Jordan Eberle or Taylor Hall (one attainable, one perhaps a dream next year). He’s got positive reviews from around the hockey world. Hopefully Skinner knows a few guys, that know Krueger. I’m not saying that it’s all on him, but Krueger’s on the team now, and the Sabres need all the help they can get.  

***

1.) The "Super Secret Sabres Source"

And finally, I took an “L” this week. Big loss. Big loser here. Hang it on me, and my Super Secret Sabres Source.

After two years of feeding me a little inside info on the workings of the Sabres (not the Bills at all), there’s a big honking wrong staring at us.

This sucks. Is this what being wrong feels like? Man… this is terrible!

Kidding guys… but yeah, it’s really been bothering me for days. I already think about the Sabres all the time, and now it’s multiplied. Hey… they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity so… nah screw it.

So let me give you the quick story and timeline, and tell you what I’m doing with the source from here…

I have never met this person. The SSSS was born the day that Tim Murray and Dan Bylsma got sacked by the Sabres. SSSS reached out to me to say that he thought some major stuff was going down with the hockey operations. Called it a “day of reckoning”.  

It was right. I’m then instantly interested in whether or not this person had a good guess, or knows a little something. Fast forward two years, and time and time again, there’s good info that ultimately checks out.  

I think it’s fun not knowing who it is. In part because, I hate anonymous sourcing in the sports world. It most often seems like it’s used to trash talk draft-eligible football players. We play the game “Who wants me to know this?” on the show whenever there is a sourced report. Is it the agent? The team? The league? Who wants me to know this?

With this source… I couldn’t ever tell. It hasn’t been pro-player, or pro-team, but rather just a little fly on the wall that’s able to relay some info from time to time. What’s in it for the SSSS? I don’t know. Having some fun helping the fans get some news stories and rumors? Isn’t that what we’re here for? If you want a press release, follow the team’s PR on social media.

Also, rather than just use "source” over and over, leaving the possibility of it being anyone, or any number of anyones in the world, I made this “source” a role player on the show. If you’ve been listening, you know about the SSSS and have for a few years. Rather than do the “a source tells me” routine that is overused, I’ve continued to mention how I came into contact with this person.

There are rumors that never come to pass, but that’s to be expected. For example, that the Calgary Flames were kicking the tires on Evander Kane is probably correct, regardless of the fact that the San Jose Sharks were the ones to swing the trade. He was there to report that the Sabres were shopping O’Reilly at the deadline last year… something that’s now just commonly accepted in the timeline of the terrible trade. He’s a reason I’ve mentioned Matt Duchene’s name over and over again because he’s told me for months now that the Sabres are looking to take a walk down that avenue. He’s been there for call-ups, the firing of the full coaching staff except for Steve Smith, Eichel injury updates, and lots with Jeff Skinner through this process.

Which makes this past week so odd. The entire hockey media world seemed to be readying for this thing getting done. Nationally, locally, the chatter had been building. My guy gave me his feeling that it “could” happen today (Friday). This after I spoke on the show that “things were gonna get going this week” and to “prepare to see the national stories on negotiations because they’re getting down to business”. The week played out, we got to Friday, and I went with it. I had a little fun with the alliteration of the tweet/report and then….. crickets.  

Did something happen? A hang-up? A delay? A player that’s not in town and they want him here? An agent holding out for one more clause in the limited NTC? Or was it just all wrong? All are possible, but I know which one I think is least likely.

We just don’t know right now. So the SSSS is still there… waiting on the Skinner news, but finally with one big honking "L" in the standings.

I guess it’s time for a redemption tour, right? I’m not bailing on this source… not yet. Fact is, he thought the Sabres were going to have this thing done by now, and I’d bet your next paycheck that people inside the organization felt the same.  

Now we wait to see if they can close the deal.

And until we get the redemption, I shall bear the brunt of those dunking on me, and the SSSS.

Stay tuned.

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