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Sabres' Skinner tells AP he welcomes higher expectations

By The News · 11 of June 2019 14:38:28
AP Photo,, No available, FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2019, file photo, Buffalo Sabres center Jeff Skinner (53) skates with the puck away from Chicago Blackhawks left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Buffalo, N.Y. The Sabres have re-signed leading scorer Skinner to an eight year, $72 million contract. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus, File)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Jeff Skinner tells The Associated Press he is grateful for the faith the Buffalo Sabres showed in making him their second highest-paid player and welcomes the increased expectations that come with his newly signed eight-year, $72 million contract.

Skinner says it’s his job to produce and he looks forward to playing a role in helping transform a young and rebuilding team into a contender. Skinner spoke to The AP by phone in his first interview a day after signing the contract Friday.

He is coming off a year in which he scored a career-best and team-leading 40 goals in his first season in Buffalo. The Sabres acquired the ninth-year player in a trade with Carolina in August, and he was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Skinner said numerous factors went into his decision to re-sign with Buffalo, including a recent conversation he had with newly hired coach Ralph Krueger. Skinner, who has topped 30 goals four times, said he was impressed by Krueger’s vast experience in and outside of the NHL, and enthusiasm he expressed of taking the job.

Though the Sabres extended their playoff drought to eight years last season, Skinner is impressed by the team’s young talented players, including captain Jack Eichel and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin.

Earlier in the day, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill acknowledged the risks involved in re-signing a 27-year-old forward to such a lucrative long-term contract. And yet, he added, a bigger gamble would have been losing the team’s leading scorer once the NHL’s free-agency period opened on July 1, and having to start from scratch to replace him.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports