You can count a former teammate among those optimistic about Jeff Skinner's fit with the Buffalo Sabres' top center, Jack Eichel.
"I think him and Eichel will be an exciting pair," former Carolina Hurricanes center Zach Boychuk told The Buffalo News. "I don’t think Jeff has played with a superstar right-handed center before so he might get a lot more passes."
Boychuk, a seven-year NHL veteran who now plays in Russia's KHL, spent parts of five seasons with Skinner while the pair were both with Carolina. Skinner had two 30-goal seasons during that span, including his 31-goal performance as a rookie that earned him a Calder Trophy.
"Jeff is one of the purest goal scorers in close around the net," Boychuk said. "He’s had some up and down seasons but consistently puts up over 20 goals. He has a high ceiling and can create scoring chances by himself. In a few of his seasons he’s even putting up 20 goals from the third line, mixed in with a lot of power-play time ...
"From his figure skating background, he can do some pretty insane edge work even during games which not many people can do."
Skinner, entering his eighth season in the NHL, was acquired by the Sabres on Aug. 2 for a package including a second-round draft pick in 2019, third- and sixth-round picks in 2020 and prospect Cliff Pu. This marks the first time that Skinner has swapped teams as a professional.
"He’s grown a lot," Boychuk said. "Overcome injuries. One of the nicest guys you will meet. Has a lot of fun at the rink always has a smile on his face. ... I would say he’s not the most vocal guy in the room, but he has a presence and respect. He always took care of me when I got called up."