Jeff Skinner saw enough in his first season with the Buffalo Sabres to believe in their future.
As a result, Skinner, who could have become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, signed an eight-year, $72 million contract ($9 million average annual value) to remain with Buffalo on June 7.
"There are some pretty talented players that are pretty young that are going to get better as they get older," Skinner said. "When you look at the start we had, I know that we sort of ran into a speed bump there and didn't finish off the way we did, but I don't think that takes away from that part of the season where we did go on a bit of a run and we had a fair bit of success. Those are the kinds of things that point to the right direction.
"When you look at the overall organization, the position that it's in with the talent it has and the players it has and for me, personally, how I've seen those people work together, there's a lot of positive signs there."
The forward led the Sabres with an NHL career-high 40 goals this season and tied his NHL career high with 63 points, which ranked third on the team behind forwards Jack Eichel (82 points) and Sam Reinhart (65). Defensemen Rasmus Dahlin (44) and Rasmus Ristolainen (43) were fourth and fifth, respectively, and all but Skinner are younger than 25 (Eichel, 22; Reinhart, 23; Dahlin, 19; Ristolainen, 24).