Jeff Skinner hasn’t been Alexander Mogilny-good in his first six weeks wearing a Buffalo Sabres jersey. But his 13 goals in 18 games has been a reminder of how fun it can be in Buffalo when a Sabre is filling the net with regularity, as Mogilny did years ago
Skinner’s 59-goal pace is well short of what is necessary to chase down Mogilny’s team record of 76 in 1992-93. But Skinner’s production has helped Buffalo go 7-2-2 in its last 11 games and pull within three points of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Atlantic Division lead.
This is a noteworthy start for a team that has missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons.
The Sabres gave up prospect Cliff Pu, plus second-, third- and sixth-round draft picks for Skinner, who is serving as Jack Eichel’s left wing.
First-quarter trade grade: A
Without question, Skinner has been among the most productive offseason trade acquisitions.
Here is how some of the others grade out in the first quarter:
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues
Evaluation: Too much has gone wrong for the 6-7-3 Blues this season, but not their trade for O’Reilly. With 21 points in 16 games, O’Reilly is on pace to have the best season of his career. The 10-season veteran has never registered more than 61 points. O’Reilly has won more than 62% of his faceoffs.
Max Domi, Montreal Canadiens
Evaluation: The Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes traded one disappointing player for another: Domi to Montreal and Alex Galchenyuk to Arizona. The Canadiens are thrilled with the trade because Domi, 23, looks to be maturing with 10 goals and 22 points in 18 games. The Habs were looking for an offensive spark and he has provided it.
Max is also comfortable playing in a media-crazed city because his dad, Tie, played in Toronto for most of his NHL career. That’s important.
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But the Coyotes would probably still make the trade. Despite starting the season with an injury, Galchenyuk boasts eight points in 10 games. He’s the scoring center they desired.
Erik Karlsson, San Jose Sharks
Evaluation: With no goals, eight assists and a plus-minus of -9, Karlsson has been statistically underwhelming. He remains the best offensive defenseman in the game, but his plus-minus is the worst on the Sharks. Brent Burns, for example, is +3. It’s possible Karlsson is trying too hard and forcing too much instead of relying on his instincts. Even considering Karlsson’s subpar start, the Sharks would still make this deal. They don’t need Karlsson to be exceptional in October and November. They need him to be exceptional in April, May and June.
Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights
Evaluation: Pacioretty’s impact has been undermined by an injury that kept him out for four games. He has only two goals in 15 games. That’s a 10-goal pace for a left winger who has scored 30 or more goals five times. Injuries to Paul Stastny and Erik Haula haven’t helped. Pacioretty needs to replace the scoring of James Neal, who left the Golden Knights for the Calgary Flames via free agency last offseason. Extra credit for Pacioretty if he can dial up his physical game.
Vinnie Hinostroza, Arizona Coyotes
Evaluation: Acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in the deal to move Marian Hossa’s contract, Hinostroza has won over the Coyotes with nine points in 17 games. He is currently playing on the third line with Michael Grabner and Brad Richardson. That trade had other benefits for Arizona because Jordan Oesterle has been a third-pairing defenseman.