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Potential Buyout Candidate Makes A Lot Of Sense For Avalanche

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Jeff Skinner Avalanche nhl

Reuniting Junior teammates worked out pretty well for the Colorado Avalanche last season. Should the Avalanche try it again this summer?

Rumors are swirling that when they have the opportunity to do so, the Buffalo Sabres could buyout the contract of Jeff Skinner. The 32 year old winger has three years remaining on a contract that sees him carry a cap hit of $9 million a year. He’s not worth that, and the Sabres need to start winning immediately, so they make look to take advantage of the first year of Skinner’s buyout costing very little against the cap. On Thursday, Buffalo’s GM Kevyn Adams was vague when asked about a potential Skinner buyout. That’s probably a good indication the wheels are in motion.

A buyout would immediately send Skinner to the free agent market, and if it happens, it makes perfect sense for the Avalanche to see if they can convince him to come to Denver.

Skinner, who was roommates with Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog back when the two played for the Kitchener Rangers, is not a bad player at all – he’s just overpaid. In fact, after two down years for the Sabres after signing his big contract, he’s been remarkably productive, scoring 92 goals over the last three seasons. He’s far from a perfect player, though…

The offense is fantastic. The defense? Ugly, and there’s really no way to sugar coat that. If he did come to Colorado, he’d have to clean it up to earn ice-time under Jared Bednar. We saw Jonathan Drouin put in the work last year, so it’s not impossible, but I wouldn’t expect Skinner to suddenly become some two-way dynamo if he signed in Colorado.

So why do it? Well, there’s two big reasons.

If bought out, Skinner will get to pick where he wants to go. Perhaps the most remarkable stat when it comes to Skinner is the fact that even though he has 1,006 NHL games and 357 career goals under his belt, he’s never actually played a playoff game. One would have to think he’d be looking to sign with a playoff team.

Last summer, the Dallas Stars took advantage of Matt Duchene being bought out by the Predators. Because he was still getting paid by Nashville, Duchene signed a relatively modest one-year contract with the Stars, and was highly motivated to prove the Predators wrong. He responded with a 65 point season, providing a ton of value for Dallas. That’s the dream if the Avalanche signed Skinner. Hope that he’ll take less to come to a playoff team, and come with a chip on his shoulder to show that the Sabres made a mistake. The Avalanche probably would need him to sign for less than the $3 million Duchene got, but that’s where you look to the Avalanche (and Landeskog) to sell Skinner on the opportunity to win.

The other reason? Well, the Avalanche don’t exactly have a ton of options this summer. With the status of Landeskog and Nichushkin very much up in the air, no one is quite sure how much money they’ll have to spend. Jonathan Drouin’s agent is saying all the right things, but no one has put pen to paper just yet. They need to take chances on guys like this who might have something to prove. Skinner has his flaws, but you can’t ignore his goal production. He’s the exact type of player a contending team like Colorado needs to target on a cheap, one-year deal. This doesn’t need to be a long-term commitment, but rather one that both sides can benefit from.

Colorado gets a (hopefully) motivated veteran goal scorer who wants a taste of playoff hockey, and Skinner gets to play with some top talent and maybe earn a bigger contract next summer. It’s a no-brainer for Colorado to pursue the Skinner…assuming he hits the market.

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