The Buffalo Sabres held the first day of their 2023-24 end-of-season media availabilities on Wednesday.

Forwards Jeff Skinner, Alex Tuch, Jordan Greenway, and Tage Thompson, and defensemen Rasmus Dahlin, Henri Jokiharju, and Connor Clifton each addressed the media for the final time this season. 

See below for the full interviews, quotes, and takeaways from Day 1 of locker cleanout.

Jeff Skinner

Jeff Skinner addresses the media

Skinner ended the 2023-24 campaign with 46 points (24+22) in 74 games following a career year in 2022-23 with 82 points (35+47) in 79 games.

The forward, who played in his 1000th NHL game on April 2 against Washington, said he plans to take the summer to reflect on his season to gain a clearer picture of what he’d like to work on moving forward.

“I’ve been around long enough to sort of be able to evaluate my own play and sort of tweak it when I’m not satisfied with it and know kind of what I can contribute and how I can help the team,” he said. “And I think that’s always someone’s mindset, but I think the more experience you have, the more in-tune you are with what you can bring. And I’m pretty comfortable with where I’m at in that sense.”

While Skinner will use the offseason to improve in areas he believes he can be better, he and his teammates will use missing the playoffs as fuel to raise the bar ahead of the 2024-25 season.

“Yeah, I mean, I think no one in here is satisfied,” he said. “Everyone is disappointed with the result and frustrated with the result. And I think moving forward, you use that as motivation in whatever way you choose kind of. I think every person deals with that kind of thing differently. But I think there’s no shortage of motivation and urgency for guys in this room to play up to our standard and to keep raising that standard.”

Alex Tuch

Alex Tuch addresses the media

Tuch recorded 11 points (3+8) in Buffalo’s last 10 games of the season to tie Rasmus Dahlin for the team lead with 59 points (22+37) in 75 games while serving as a reliable two-way player and leader on the ice. He registered 82 takeaways in 2023-24, which rank tied for fourth in the NHL.

Sabres fans voted Tuch as the recipient of the 2023-24 Rick Martin Memorial Award last Thursday for his on-ice excellence, resiliency, and dedication to the community.

During his media availability, Tuch was asked about the possibility of taking on more of a leadership role next season.

“I don’t care if I’m wearing a letter, honestly,” he said. “I think my teammates see me as a leader, and that’s all I care about. Honestly, it’s being able to be the best that I am and contributing as much as possible.

“I think I bring some experience to the table that will help our team win. That’s it. Whatever I can contribute as a player, as an individual, I’ll contribute.”

Rasmus Dahlin

Rasmus Dahlin addresses the media

Dahlin opened his media availability by reacting to the news that the team relieved head coach Don Granato of his duties on Tuesday.

“It was a tough day, for sure,” he said. “He took me to the next level. He’s been helping me so much with my game. I had (a) rough year before he came (to the team). So, me and him have a really good relationship. But you know, it’s the next step now and we have to look forward for the new chapter.”

The 24-year-old enjoyed career years with Granato at the helm, recording a career-best 73 points (15+58) in 78 games in 2022-23 while tying Tuch for the team lead in points this season with 59 points (20+39) in 81 contests. Dahlin tallied a career-high 20 goals in 2023-24, becoming just the second defenseman in Sabres history to score at least 20 goals in a single season.

As the Sabres’ alternate captain looks ahead to next season, he is ready to take on a greater leadership role as the team will make its transition to a new coach.

“I think my role moving forward is to lead by example,” Dahlin said.

“We believe as much as we did, I don’t know, a year or two ago. And we’re as motivated. We want it even more after this year because this team knows what we can do. We just couldn’t figure it out this year, but I think some changes will be good to us.”

Dahlin also confirmed he will be competing in the 2024 IIHF World Championship, which is scheduled for Friday, May 10 through Sunday, May 26 in Czechia.

Jordan Greenway

Jordan Greenway addresses the media

Greenway became one of the Sabres’ most valued penalty killers this season, leading the team with an average of 2:54 of shorthanded ice time per game. The forward averaged a career-best 17:15 of ice time per game while recording 10 goals, 18 assists, and a plus-11 rating in 67 contests.

Greenway echoed many of his teammates, sharing that he wants to produce more and continue to do whatever it takes to help the team win moving forward.

“I think I was able to do a lot of good things for the team this year,” he said. “You know, my goal is to have an impact every single night. Whether it’s production, bringing a physical presence. You know, the penalty kill this year. You know, a bunch of different things. And there were nights where I did some things well and you know, everyone wants to score more. Everyone wants to produce more. So, that’s an easy answer for me.

“I think I can score more in this league. I think I can produce more. But just building entirely on my game to help us win as a team has been my focus and will continue to be my focus. And whatever we need for next year is what I’ll bring.”

Henri Jokiharju

Henri Jokiharju addresses the media

Jokiharju ended his fifth season in Buffalo with a career-best 20 points (3+17) and a plus-14 rating in 74 games. He tallied four assists while averaging 20:16 of ice time in the Sabres’ last five games of the season.

The 24-year-old is a pending restricted free agent and will wait to see how things play out, noting he would be happy to stay in Buffalo.

“You know, we’ll see what happens,” he said. “But of course, (I’ll) be more than happy to continue playing here. So, I think that’s how I look at it. But you know, business is business, so we’ll see what happens.”

Tage Thompson

Tage Thompson addresses the media

Thompson addressed the media after exiting during the first period of Monday’s season finale against Tampa Bay with a lower-body injury. The forward, who was planning on participating in the 2024 IIHF World Championship in May, will instead take time to heal and rest to make sure he is healthy for next season.

“… More important for me to get healthy, obviously,” he said. “I think I was looking forward to competing in the World Championships, always nice representing your country, but something that’s probably gonna be a few weeks. Probably just smarter to get healthy for next season and make sure I’m ready to go.”

Thompson recorded 10 goals and eight assists for 18 points in his last 15 games of 2023-24. He ended his season with 56 points (29+27) in 71 games after missing nine games in November and December with an upper-body injury he sustained by blocking a shot on Nov. 14 against Boston.

During his media availability, Thompson said the injury was something he was battling during the season.

“I think I maybe came back a little early, for sure,” he said. “Obviously, it sucks being out and missing time and you want to be back helping the team. Maybe I jumped back a little too early when I wasn’t ready. I knew it was going to take me a little bit to get back to myself. It’s unfortunate that it happened, and I would have liked to get to my game a lot quicker than that.”

Connor Clifton

Connor Clifton addresses the media

Clifton recorded 18 points (4+14) and a plus-12 rating in 79 games this season after signing a three-year contract with the Sabres on July 1. He amassed 159:54 of shorthanded ice time in those contests, leading all Sabres defensemen.

The 28-year-old feels that the young group is better than its record showed and that this summer will be important to come back better next year.  

“I think we’re a better team than what we proved this year with our standings,” he said. “… I’m excited to be part of this group and I’m excited for camp next year. Obviously, we have a long time to wait and a long time to prepare, and I think that’s just part of the process.”