Contingency Plan: The Case for Jeff Skinner

June 24, 2024
Posted in News
June 24, 2024 Sean Cuthbert

Sean Cuthbert makes his case for an alternative option should the Islanders swing and miss on bigger names this off-season.

Summer has arrived, the NHL Draft is around the corner, and not long after is the start of free agency. It’s the time of year when New York Islanders fans dream big about reshaping their roster for a better chance at chasing down that elusive silver chalice.

The Islanders could use scoring depth, and as much as Casey Cizikas is beloved on the Island, he doesn’t belong in your top six forwards.  Much less on a top line next to Bo Horvat and Mat Barzal.

But let’s face it.

“Try as they might, Islander summers typically end with bait still on their hooks after casting for big fish.”

Try as they might, Islander summers typically end with bait still on their hooks after casting for big fish.

Time and again fans are reserved to pitting their hopes on something smaller swimming around in those dreams after all the whales have been harpooned.

READ MORE: Erik Brannstrom Contingency Plan

So until they prove otherwise, let’s assume this summer plays out in similar fashion (for cap reasons or otherwise), and names like Jake Guentzel and even more moderately-sized targets like Nikolaj Ehlers predictably end up elsewhere. The well of ideal candidates runs dry and fans are left wondering once again: where do the Islanders turn?

How about Jeff Skinner?

With word swirling he may be headed for a buyout in Buffalo, he may just be that shrewd under-the-radar pickup to bolster the Islanders scoring punch and reignite a power play that went dormant as the season drew to its close.

Is Skinner at the top of your list? Unlikely. Is he on the right side of 30? Nope (32). Can he fit in Patrick Roy’s defense-first system? Who knows?!

But one thing we do know is: the guy can light the lamp, and he can light it up with frequency. And that just might be enough to invest some modest coin to see if Roy can make it work.

Skinner is two years removed from a 35-goal, 82-point season (21 on the power play) after taking a dip in production putting up 24-22-46 in 74 games last season.

Over the course of his career, Skinner’s been known to bounce back from the occasional downswing in output. Maybe the Islanders can catch him on another upswing at a lower cost post-buyout, potentially easing the need for Lou to bend over backwards unloading salary to make room.

For a closer look at what he might bring to table, here’s Skinner’s WAR courtesy of the ever-helpful JFresh:

Skinner won’t be in the running for a Selke Trophy and he’s not going to help with zone entries. But he’s definitely a guy who gets into position to shoot, and shoots to score.

Ideally, he serves as a triggerman for Barzal on Horvat’s left side. If not, he flanks Nelson and Palmieri while keeping depth players further down the depth chart.

Maybe most importantly though, he can be the weapon the Isles have been missing on the power play.

Should the Islanders swing higher? Absolutely. Do your due diligence. But if they strike out once again, Jeff Skinner at a reduced cost may not be a bad option.

Sabres’ Jeff Skinner Snipes Top Corner From Tough Angle to Beat Canadiens’ Jake Allen

For more off-season coverage, catch Hockey Night in New York with hosts Sean Cuthbert and Stefen Rosner live from Floored Media in Rockville Centre this Sunday June 30th at 8PM ET!

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