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Sabres' Skinner potential healthy scratch Monday against Islanders

The Sabres winger, on an eight-year, $72 million contract, hasn't scored in almost a full calendar year and has just one assist so far this year.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sabres fans watched Jeff Skinner come to Buffalo and immediately produce a 40-goal season in 2018-2019, then sign an eight-year, $72 million contract with the team, averaging $9 million per season.

Now Skinner is in a self-proclaimed "slump," which could cost him a spot in Monday night's lineup against the New York Islanders. The Sabres winger did not practice with any of the regular four lines at practice on Sunday.

"I obviously am going through a little bit of a slump, and it's not something I'm used to," Skinner said Sunday.

"You just (work) your way out of it. ... Everybody has it in every type of job. You go through ups and downs, and when you when you're in one of those down slumps, you work hard for solutions, simplify things. ... There's a lot of clichés, but it really comes down to just working your way out of it."

Skinner now has gone almost a full calendar year, since February 29, 2020, without a goal. The coronavirus pandemic shutting down the Sabres' previous season for good in March 2020 is partially to blame, but over 14 games, Skinner has no goals and just one assist so far this year.

Coach Ralph Krueger would not confirm if Sunday's practice would confirm the Sabres' lineup for Monday night, but he said the line adjustments were a "potential change in the mix."

"When we make hard decisions, they're not necessarily short-term that will make everybody happy, but hopefully it pushes the right buttons in the individuals to have them fulfill the roles that we expect," Krueger said Sunday, while saying he respects the players' seniority in such decisions.

Credit: AP
Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner (53) skates with the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

The veteran Skinner, asked if he could use rest on Monday night said, "It's my 11th year and I'm over 700 games. I don't think I've ever really felt like I needed a day off to relook at things. I think I've seen a lot in this week, run through adversity before in my career.

"You just work keep working and put your head down, and that's what I'll do."

The Sabres play the Islanders on the road Monday at 7 p.m.