Jeff Skinner endured a down season in 2023-24. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

Kevyn Adams aware of rumors Sabres could buy out Jeff Skinner

BUFFALO – General manager Kevyn Adams knows there are rumors the Sabres could buy out winger Jeff Skinner, who has three seasons remaining on his eight-year, $72 million contract.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Tuesday called a buyout “a possibility,” igniting speculation about the 14-year veteran’s future.

Skinner, 32, certainly fits the criteria of a player the Sabres, who have missed the playoffs an NHL-record 13 straight seasons, would consider cutting loose.

He struggled last season, scoring 24 goals and 46 points, a 12-goal, 36-point drop following a career year. The Sabres have a new coach, Lindy Ruff, who will likely install a more rigid system. Adams’ predecessor, Jason Botterill, signed the six-time 30-goal scorer to his huge deal.

Adams, of course, refused to get into specifics about Skinner, who has played 1,006 regular-season games but never appeared in a playoff contest. He also did not squash the rumors.

“There are rumblings on different scenarios,” Adams said Thursday in KeyBank Center during media availability to discuss the upcoming NHL Draft. “What I can tell you is from the day our season ended, after my conversations with Terry (Pegula) and kind of where we go from here, every single thing that we’re doing this offseason we ask the question, ‘Does this help our team get better? Does this put us in a position to improve?’

“And we’ve made a lot of decisions up to this point of where we sit today with that in mind and we’re gonna continue. So nothing’s off the table. We’re going to talk about everything. We’re gonna look at every scenario. But that’s probably as far as I’d go on specifics right now.”

The buyout period begins 48 hours after the Stanley Cup final ends. If the Sabres exercise one, they must pay Skinner two-thirds of his remaining salary – $2,444,445, according to – over the next six years.

During that period, $19,666,670 of Skinner’s contact would count against the salary cap, according to The Sabres would save $7,333,333 against the cap.

Adams said during his conversation with Skinner following the season, “there was true honesty back and forth.”

“I’ll leave specifics out, but I think it’s safe to say I have a lot of respect for Jeff,” he said. “I mean, he’s clearly an elite offensive player in this league. He’s done it a long time. He’s scored a lot of goals in this league. I have a lot of respect for Newport Sports, which represents him, and how they handle themselves and the professionalism they show on a daily basis.”

Over the past two years, the Sabres have awarded lucrative long-term contract extensions to some of their top young players – defensemen Rasmus Dahlin, Mattias Samuelsson and Owen Power and centers Dylan Cozens and Tage Thompson – shortly after they became eligible to sign new deals.

On July 1, defenseman Bowen Byram and wingers JJ Peterka and Jack Quinn, all of whom have one year left on their deals, will be allowed to sign contract extensions. However, expect the Sabres to wait.

“We’re always open,” Adams said. “We’ve done it before. We’ve also gone the other way. I think right now, I wouldn’t anticipate that we’d go down that road this summer, but we could change.”

Adams expressed confidence the Sabres will sign No. 1 goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, defenseman Henri Jokiharju and center Peyton Krebs, their most prominent restricted free agents, to new contracts this summer.

The GM said talks with Luukkonen, 25, started late in the season.

“UPL made it very clear he loves this team, loves the city, he wants to be here,” Adams said. “We’re excited about him and we’re going to work at it.”

Adams said the sides spoke last week and will talk again next week at the draft in Las Vegas. He also plans to talk to Krebs’ agent at the draft.

Jokiharju, 25, recently switched agents and is now represented by JP Barry.

“Henri has a new agency, which does change just in terms of when you have to pick up and start over again, to some extent, which has been totally fine,” Adams said. “Had (a) productive conversation at the Combine with JP Barry.”

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