Jeff Skinner BUF

BUFFALO -- Jeff Skinner's contract could be bought out by the Buffalo Sabres, general manager Kevyn Adams said Thursday.

The 32-year-old forward has three seasons remaining on an eight-year, $72 million contract (average annual value $9 million) he signed with the Sabres on June 7, 2019.

“Nothing's off the table,” Adams said regarding Skinner. “We're going to talk about everything. We're going to look at every scenario. But that's probably as far as I'd go on specifics right now.”

Skinner had 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 74 games this season, a drop-off following an NHL career-high 82 points (35 goals, 47 assists) in 79 games in 2022-23. In 2021-22, he matched what was then a personal NHL best with 63 points (33 goals, 30 assists) in 80 games.

Skinner has 291 points (153 goals, 138 assists) in 427 games through six seasons with Buffalo, which acquired Skinner in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Aug. 2, 2018. He has played 1,006 NHL games in 14 NHL seasons, but has never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This season was well below expectations for the Sabres, who have not qualified for the playoffs since 2011, a span of 13 seasons. Buffalo (39-37-6) finished sixth in the Atlantic Division after going 42-33-7 in 2022-23, when it finished one point behind the Florida Panthers for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Coach Don Granato was fired April 16 and Lindy Ruff, the last coach to guide the Sabres to the playoffs, was hired as his replacement six days later.

“I know there's rumors out there. There are rumblings on different scenarios,” Adams said. “What I can tell you is … every single thing that we're doing this offseason we ask the question, ‘Does this help our team get better? Does this put us in a position to improve?’ And we've made a lot of decisions up to this point of where we sit today with that in mind, and we're going to continue.”

That includes what Buffalo might do with the No. 11 pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, which will begin at Sphere in Las Vegas on June 28.

“I've told every team in the League that we are wide open to considering moving pick 11,” Adams said. “We're wide open to consider anything, to be honest with you -- prospects, if we think it's going to help our team. We're having those conversations right now.

Buffalo has built up a deep prospect pool under Adams, who was named GM in June 2020. In previous years, Buffalo has been reluctant to move picks and prospects in order to ensure the organization is set up for long-term sustainable success.

Part of that plan has been locking up members of the Sabres' core. Centers Tage Thompson and Dylan Cozens and defensemen Rasmus Dahlin, Owen Power and Mattias Samuelsson each is signed for at least the next six seasons.

Now it’s time for the next step.

“I think we've moved into another phase now that we have to be really open and looking to make these types of decisions,” Adams said. “… But this year in particular is the first time I'd say that we're the most comfortable with kind of where we've built our prospect pool that if the right opportunity's there, that we'll be ready to do it for.”

Buffalo is also working on a new contract for goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who can become a restricted free agent July 1.

The 25-year-old emerged as the Sabres’ starter this season, when he was 27-22-4 with a 2.57 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 54 games (51 starts). His five shutouts were tied for fifth in the NHL.

Conversations with Luukkonen’s representatives began in March; those talks will continue at the draft, and Adams said he's confident they’ll get a contract done.

“They've been productive,” he said of the negotiations. “I like to start these conversations making sure we're aligned on, does the player want to be here, do they believe in what we're doing, because if you're not, if you don't start there in a good spot, I think it's going to be really challenging.

"And ‘UPL’ made it very clear, he loves this team, loves the city, he wants to be here. We're excited about him and we're going to work at it.”