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Sabres’ Jeff Skinner Looking for a Bounce-Back Season

After two very disappointing seasons, Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner is hoping to turn things around in 2021-22.

Just a few short years ago, things were going quite well for Jeff Skinner. In his first season as a Buffalo Sabre in 2018-19, he scored a career-high 40 goals and in the process earned himself a new eight-year, $72 million contract. Unfortunately for the now 29-year-old, things have gone horrendously since, and he is now talked about as having one of the worst, if not the worst, contracts in the entire NHL.

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It is hard to know exactly what has happened to Skinner over the past two seasons, but there is no denying he is a shell of his former self. Perhaps it is the losing culture in Buffalo that has caused him to fall off so dramatically, though he had several solid years with the Carolina Hurricanes despite not making the playoffs once in his eight seasons with them. Whatever it is, he is trying to stay confident and is looking to turn things around in 2021-22.

Jeff Skinner Sabres
Jeff Skinner Sabres

“I still feel I’m an impact player,” said Skinner, who managed just seven goals and 14 points in 53 games last season. “That’s kind of how I feel. How that’s impacting the game is obviously going to change on a night-to-night basis, but that’s what I expect of myself. I think that’s what’s expected of me here and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

Though looking at Skinner’s stats from the past two seasons don’t give much reason for optimism, he does have one thing going for him in terms of being able to bounce back. That is the fact that Don Granato is now the teams head coach, not Ralph Krueger. Under Krueger, Skinner saw his game drop off almost instantly, and he was forced into a bottom-six role, something he was never comfortable with. Early on through training camp, he has been put back into the top six, and is very grateful for the opportunity.

“It gives you confidence when the coach kind of trusts you and believes in you,” Skinner said. “Obviously, at the same time, you’ve got to earn that. You’ve got to work for it. You’ve got to make sure that you’re proving him right.”

Hopefully, for Skinner’s case, he is able to get back to the player he was. Unfortunately, it likely won’t matter in terms of team success, as the 2021-22 season is shaping up to be another long one for the Sabres. At this point, it appears that Jack Eichel will never play another game for the franchise, and the rest of the roster is simply not good enough to compete right now. If Skinner is able to turn things around, he could be one of the very few bright spots in their lineup this season.

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