Two days after moving Jeff Skinner down the lineup, Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said he’s confident he and his staff can get the veteran winger in what he called “a good place.”
Skinner, 28, began training camp skating at left wing on the second line beside center Eric Staal and Sam Reinhart. But Krueger recently moved him down the lineup with center Curtis Lazar and newcomer Riley Sheahan.
Skinner struggled last year in the first season of an eight-year, $72 million contract, mustering only 14 goals in 59 games. In 2018-19, he scored a career-high 40 goals in 82 outings.
“He’s worked hard in the offseason,” Krueger said on a Zoom call Sunday. “He’s coming in here and for us, it’s important no matter your role, no matter your skill level is that in general you play within the principles. He’s continuing to work on that together with the coaching staff. I think once he lets that go and relaxes and trusts his instincts, he’s going to give us what we need, which is we need scoring right through the lineup, and the present setup will give that line opportunity to add to our offense.”
On Sunday morning, Skinner was out on the ice early, according to reports from KeyBank Center.
“It’ll be important for Jeff to just keep working hard,” Krueger said. “And again, our principles need to be the guideline, but within that framework every player has the opportunity to let his genius express itself. For Jeff, that’s usually in the danger zone in front of the other team’s net. So his linemates need to get him there, he needs to do the work to get himself there and the goals will follow. It’s always hard work before you get rewarded.”