BUFFALO – Having a no-trade clause attached to his six-year, $34.35 million contract meant Jeff Skinner controlled his future. The Sabres’ newest player could veto a deal and wait until the Carolina Hurricanes and his agent found him a new team he liked.
While Skinner denied he turned down any offers, reports and the timing of his trade – high-profile NHL deals rarely transpire in August – suggest otherwise.
Whatever the case, Skinner, who was dealt Thursday, clearly sees a fit and wanted to join the Sabres.
In his final season before hitting unrestricted free agency, the three-time 30-goal scorer will likely skate at left wing beside slick center Jack Eichel, one of a few youngsters with superstar potential that helped lure Skinner to Buffalo.
“First and foremost, the young group of players they have, the young core is exciting,” Skinner said of why he approved a trade to the Sabres. “There’s a lot of good players. I’m excited to join those guys and be a piece of the puzzle to them.
“After that, I think you try to do your homework based on sort of guys that have played there, maybe guys that you know. … I’ve heard a lot of positive things about the city, a lot of positive things about the ownership group, management group and the fans.”
Skinner, a Toronto native, said “yes and no” when asked if the proximity to his home factored in coming to the Sabres.
“It’s a positive, all things considered,” he said this afternoon on a conference call. “My family’s excited. But I think, for me, when you sort of rank priorities and weigh everything that goes into it … it’s nice to be close to family, it’s nice to be close to friends. I’ve gotten a lot of texts and people are excited.
“But for me, I think the focus is winning and having a good season and right now coming into camp … to sort of start on the right foot.”
Check back later for a full story on Skinner, who said he hasn’t thought about a contract extension with the Sabres yet.
“Obviously, the last 24 to 48 hours have been busy,” he said.