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Maple Leafs Miss Out on Free Agent, Jeff Skinner Chooses Oilers

One of the top free agents in July, Jeff Skinner, was bought out by the Buffalo Sabres before July 1 and opted to sign with the Edmonton Oilers as soon as free agency began.

After being waived by the Sabres, Skinner chose to join the Oilers on a one-year, $3 million contract, snubbing his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. NHL insider Chris Johnston reported that Skinner passed on the Leafs to sign with the Stanley Cup finalists from Edmonton. Toronto was among the teams vying for the forward, but the Oilers won out.

“He’s going to Edmonton clearly to win. He could have signed for one year and $3 million in about ten spots,” Johnston said on the July 2 episode of The Chris Johnston Show. “The Leafs were among the teams that pitched him the idea of playing alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.”

Skinner had previously signed an eight-year, $72 million contract with the Sabres in June 2019, but was released before the 2024-25 season. Entering free agency, he signed with the team of his choice and picked the Oilers, preferring to play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl over the Leafs’ Matthews and Marner.

 Skinner’s Deal with the Oilers

Skinner’s deal with the Oilers is a bargain, at one year for $3 million. The Oilers announced the signing on July 1, marking a significant pay cut from the potential $9 million he could have earned annually over the last two years of his Buffalo contract.

Skinner expressed excitement about joining Edmonton. “For me personally, getting a chance to be a part of that group is a great feeling,” he said via “Obviously there’s a ton of work to do. But being able to play with that group, I’m hoping to be a piece of the puzzle and contribute.”

Drafted seventh overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2010 NHL draft, Skinner has 357 goals and 313 assists for 670 points in 1,006 games up to the 2023-24 season. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s best rookie in 2011 and is coming off a 24-goal, 22-assist season with the Sabres.

Despite his impressive career, Skinner has yet to appear in an NHL playoff game, setting a record as the first player to reach 1,000 games without a postseason appearance.

 Oilers’ Strong Offseason

The Oilers have been active this offseason, signing at least 13 players, including Viktor Arvidsson, Josh Brown, and Connor Carrick. They also re-signed key players like Connor Brown, Adam Henrique, and Mattias Janmark.

Jeff Jackson, the new Oilers CEO, completed a successful first offseason by signing notable players like Arvidsson and Skinner, which he discussed on July 1 via The Athletic.

According to Spotrac, the Oilers only lost four players to free agency: Warren Foegele, Vincent Desharnais, Sam Carrick, and Jack Campbell.

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