The Buffalo Sabres will be without forward Jeff Skinner for three to four weeks. The forward will miss action thanks to an upper body injury, the team announced Saturday.
Skinner was injured a day earlier during his team’s 3-0 loss to the Boston Bruins. He collided with forward David Pastrnak four minutes into the third period and was slow to get up. He headed to the locker room following the incident.
Skinner has 11 goals and eight helpers in 39 games this season for the Sabres. He signed an eight-year deal worth $72 million, becoming the team’s second-highest paid player behind Jack Eichel.
Skinner’s disappointing performance this season has been part of the story for the Sabres, who find themselves fifth in the Atlantic Division with a 17-15-7 record following the loss to Boston. That’s put them in a tight playoff race, making every game count at this point.
Ordinarily, Skinner’s production would be missed. And theoretically, he is a 40-goal scorer.
But now, this looks more like an opportunity for Casey Mittelstadt than anything else. The prospect could see time on the big club in Skinner’s absence, especially as the Sabres struggle to fill holes.
Mittelstadt was recently sent down to the Rochester Americans for the first time in his NHL career, a surprising move considering he spent his entire rookie campaign with the big club. The 21-year-old from Edina is a natural centre and got a bit lost in Buffalo’s system, so the stint in Rochester was designed to get him more ice time.
With Skinner’s injury, that ice time could come with more responsibility.
Skinner has attempted to adjust to life on the second line after spending much of the season with Eichel on a top-producing unit. Inconsistencies have dogged him. He found himself in the midst of an 11-game streak in which he has just an assist.
The Sabres will face the Bruins tomorrow for the second half of a home-and-home. After that, it’s back home for a contest against Tampa on Tuesday.
Photo credit: NHL