Jeff Skinner joined Buffalo in 2018. ©2024, Micheline Veluvolu

Sabres beginning process of buying out Jeff Skinner’s contract

LAS VEGAS – Winger Jeff Skinner’s enigmatic six-year career with the Buffalo Sabres is over.

General manager Kevyn Adams said Saturday following the NHL Draft the Sabres have initiated the process to buy out the remaining three seasons of Skinner’s eight-year, $72 million contract.

“It’s a step-by-step process,” Adams said in The Sphere. “That process was started early this morning.”

Update: The Sabres announced this afternoon they’ve bought out the remainder of Skinner’s contract.

The NHL’s four-day buyout window ends today.

The Sabres’ decision was hardly surprising. After word spread last week they could cut ties, Adams refused to get into specifics about Skinner’s status.

Adams said on Thursday that Skinner wouldn’t waive his no-movement clause, meaning the Sabres couldn’t trade him. Now the 14-year veteran will become an unrestricted free agent.

Skinner, 32, just endured a tough season, scoring 24 goals and 46 points, a 12-goal, 36-point drop following a career year. He struggled down the stretch, mustering zero goals and one assist in the final 13 games. He compiled seven goals and 13 points in his last 36 outings.

The Sabres have a new coach, Lindy Ruff, who will likely install a more rigid system. Skinner, of course, is known as a one-dimensional scorer.

Skinner has played 1,006 regular-season games, an NHL record for a player who has never appeared in a playoff contest.

Adams’ predecessor, Jason Botterill, signed the six-time 30-goal scorer to his huge deal.

The Sabres 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 will count against the salary cap, according to The Sabres will save $7,333,333 against the cap.

Perhaps the Sabres will use the extra money buying out Skinner creates to make a bold trade or free agent signing.

The Sabres, who own an NHL-record 13-year playoff drought, are under enormous pressure from their disgruntled fan base to end their embarrassing streak.

With Skinner gone, they must replace a player who averaged 31 goals during the past three seasons.

Even fresh off a career-high 40-goal season in 2018-19, awarding Skinner a contract usually reserved for elite players or franchise cornerstones seemed risky.

But back then, the Sabres sorely needed talent. They did not want Skinner to bolt in free agency after leading the team in goals, so they overpaid him.

Skinner struggled under new coach Ralph Krueger for nearly two seasons. He endured a 23-game goal drought in 2019-20. Krueger played him on the fourth line and scratched him in 2020-21, a move that probably lost him the locker room.

Skinner recorded just seven goals 14 points in 53 games as the Sabres finished dead last. He started scoring again when Don Granato replaced Krueger that season.

Right away, Granato showing Skinner respect by putting him on the first line. He responded by scoring 33 goals in 2021-22. He registered 35 goals and career highs of 82 points and plus-15 in 2022-23.

Besides recapturing his scoring prowess, he evolved into a sturdier player and grew into a leadership role under Granato during the best two-year stretch of his career.

But after a solid start last season, Skinner had a miserable second half.

That rough stretch apparently convinced the Sabres they should pay him to go away.

The Sabres hadn’t bought a player out since center Cody Hodgson in 2015.

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