3 players who could replace Jeff Skinner

The Sabres need to fill an offensive hole thanks to Skinner’s departure to Edmonton.
Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers
Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages
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The Buffalo Sabres recently bought out longtime forward Jeff Skinner’s contract and the veteran forward promptly signed a 1-year, $3 million deal with the Edmonton Oilers. Skinner’s exit leaves a need on Buffalo’s first or second line. With the Sabres making no splashy free agent moves since July 1, getting an experienced forward through a trade is the team’s only remaining option.

Here are three players the Sabres could land to take Skinner’s place this upcoming season.

Kaapo Kakko RW

New York Rangers right winger Kaapo Kakko is still on the trade market, despite offers from other NHL franchises. The Blueshirts hope to make a deal for him this summer, so the Sabres could sign him if they and former Buffalo forward and New York GM Chris Drury can make it work.

Kakko isn’t the highest-scoring player on the Rangers' roster, but he has solid +/- stats and is a dependable on-ice presence. It’s possible Kakko is overshadowed by more productive stars such as Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad and might improve with a change of scenery.

Frank Vatrano RW

Speaking of a player who could use a new team, Anaheim Ducks forward Frank Vatrano is a productive winger on a team that’s even worse than the Sabres. Anaheim suffered a 25-50-5 record in 2023-24, compared to Buffalo’s 39-37-6. Vatrano scored 37 goals, had 23 assists and 60 total points this past season.

The blue and gold suffered from a lack of offensive production this past year. Making a trade for Vatrano from the Ducks would give Buffalo a high-scoring forward who could make plays every time he suits up for a game.

Max Pacioretty LW

Left winger Max Pacioretty played one season for the Washington Capitals, where he scored four goals, recorded 19 assists with 23 points. His goals and assists have dropped since his time with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, where he had near or above 20 goals a season for four consecutive years.

Pacioretty is nearing the end of his NHL career at 35 years old, but he’d bring his years of hockey experience to a roster that just lost a veteran winger. Trading for Pacioretty can stabilize the Sabres’ offense and bring a seasoned forward who can shore up Buffalo’s first or second line until one of the younger players is ready to step into his place.

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