With a full no-movement clause in his contract, Jeff Skinner had the final say regarding potential destinations as the Carolina Hurricanes shopped him over the course of the offseason. The Buffalo Sabres were a destination he told management he'd approve.
Why Buffalo? The proximity to his family and friends in Toronto was a bonus, he admitted, but his decision had more to do with the cast of people who would be surrounding him with the Sabres, from ownership to his new teammates.
"I think my focus is winning and having a good season, and right now coming into camp and being as prepared as possible to sort of start on the right foot," Skinner said. "That's the top thing. I think you look at the young core, the management, the ownership, and all these things that I touched on, those things are sort of at the top of your list."
READ: Sabres acquire Skinner from Hurricanes | READ: Botterill thrilled to add 'consistent goal scorer'
Skinner is well-versed when it comes to Buffalo's overhauled roster, to which he became the latest addition on Thursday. He cited the team's young core as having made the Sabres an attractive option, then went on to list specific pieces ranging from Jack Eichel and Rasmus Ristolainen to Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt. He even mentioned Tage Thompson, a fellow newcomer.
Skinner, 26, is simply looking forward to being a piece of the puzzle. The Sabres, with their revamped lineup, are gearing for a fresh start this season. The same goes for Skinner, having spent the first eight seasons of his career with one organization.
"That's how you can look at it, it is going to be a fresh start," he said. "I know a few guys on the team, but it's going to be my first time going to a new organization and meeting all the new staff and meeting a bunch of new teammates. It's certainly something I'm looking forward to and I'm excited to get started."
Skinner should be in position to succeed alongside one of Buffalo's two dynamic young centers in Eichel and Mittelstadt, both of whom - like their new winger - can move up the ice with speed. Skinner is an established goal scorer, having topped the 30-goal mark three times already in his career.
Although he's never officially met Eichel, the two do have a mutual friend in former Carolina defenseman Noah Hanifin, and he had front row seats to two of Eichel's more memorable NHL feats: his buzzer-beating overtime goal in 2016-17, and first hat trick against the Hurricanes last season.
"I'm excited to get to know him and get to meet him," Skinner said. "He's obviously one of the top centers in game right now. I think any time you have that on your team, it's exciting … I'm happy to be on his team instead of against him."
For all the production that Skinner should bring, Sabres general manager Jason Botterill seemed equally enthused about what Skinner's work ethic and professionalism could mean to the dressing room. Skinner has played in nearly 600 NHL games despite his age and served as an alternate captain the past two seasons.
With training camp right around the corner, it won't be long before Skinner is applying that experience as a member of the Sabres.
"I think throughout my career, that's something you want to continually build on," he said. "I think you want to continually grow that as a person as you mature, as a person and a player. I think you want to sort of pass on to young guys as much as you can, anything you may have picked up and anything that might help the team in the future."