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Should the Islanders Target Jeff Skinner as a Free Agent?

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Jeff Skinner battling Ryan Pulock // Micheline Veluvolu

Last week, Elliotte Friedman hinted that the Buffalo Sabres were considering buying out Jeff Skinner. Now that the window is open, that news has sprung up again, with recent rumors reiterating the Sabres intentions to buyout Skinner, but nothing official has been announced. NYI Hockey Now will update this as more develops

Skinner, 32, is coming off a 24-goal, 46-point campaign in which the Sabres came in as a sexy pick to make the playoffs and end their decade-long drought, but they fell on their face. The entire team struggled as their offensive production collapsed inward. Now, desperate to improve and gain space, the team is buying out the last three years of Skinner’s deal.

Skinner was set to make $9 million per year against the cap. Using PuckPedia’s Buyout Calculator, buying out Skinner frees up $7.5 million this year before the buyout hit jumps up again.

At this point in his career, Skinner has seen his fair share of chaos. He played over 500 games for the Carolina Hurricanes, leaving the team in 2018, one year before the ‘Canes returned to the playoffs. Then, he arrived in Buffalo, where they were stuck in futility.

Skinner’s 32. He’s played in over 1,000 NHL games. Yet, he’s never played in a playoff game. One can imagine he will have his mind set on going to a contender. If the Islanders can convince him to join, Skinner will complete their first line.

Skinner’s value is goalscoring. He’s never been the most defensive-minded forward, but he’s scored over 30 goals six times, including a 40-goal season. This past season, he slowed down. Even so, his goalscoring would certainly be a boon for the Islanders.

More importantly, he’s going to be cheap. With the Sabres on the hook for paying him a healthy hunk of change to play for them, Skinner’s priority is going to be winning. The Islanders have been in the playoffs in five of six seasons, a statistic that even their short stays the last two years don’t change.

For the Islanders, adding a scorer is a must. If they can add a goal-scorer on the cheap, it’s all the better. That’s what Skinner is. The issue would come if he wants any type of term. I don’t think the Islanders should give term to a 32-year-old forward who’s never been in the playoffs.

A one-year deal, maybe even a two-year one for Skinner, should be more than enough. Adding Skinner cheaply gives the Islanders more flexibility to spend elsewhere, which is just as valuable as the player, if not more.