Sabres scratch struggling $72-million forward Jeff Skinner vs. Islanders

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NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - FEBRUARY 20:  Jeff Skinner #53 of the Buffalo Sabres stretches before the game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on February 20, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres are benching Jeff Skinner after his dismal start to the NHL season. (Getty)

After a brutal start to the 2021 campaign, Jeff Skinner is a healthy scratch for the Buffalo Sabres' Monday night contest against the New York Islanders.

Forward Casey Mittelstadt will replace Skinner in the Sabres' lineup.

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger informed the media of his roster shuffling just a couple of hours ahead of puck drop, confirming his decision to follow through on threats of benching their $72-million forward after Skinner's dismal start to the season.

"I just think it's good for Jeff to take a look once from the outside and we've got coaches active with him, working together to have him come back an even stronger player," Krueger told a gaggle of media members on Zoom late Monday afternoon.

The Sabres have been nothing short of a disaster this season and Skinner has been right along for the ride.

Skinner benching on top of Jack Eichel rumors

After leading the Sabres during the 2018-19 season, posting personal career highs of 40 goals and 63 points, Skinners production has dipped mightily since inking an eight-year, $72-million deal with the club. In 59 games last season, Skinner posted just 14 goals and 23 points.

This year, Skinner has only managed to wrangle up a single assist through 14 contests while seeing his TOI dip to under 14 minutes — nearly five fewer minutes per game than did two seasons ago.

The Sabres, in full-blown scramble mode, are trying just about anything right now as they currently toil in the basement of the NHL's East division, well back of a playoff spot yet again. Compounding their place at the bottom of the standings is a resurgence in rumors of Jack Eichel wanting out of Buffalo. Given everything else, could you blame him?

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