BUFFALO, N.Y. — Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill remains confident that 40-goal-scorer Jeff Skinner will re-sign with the team.

Contract talks began in January. Botterill says negotiations continue and both sides are focused on having a contract completed before the NHL's free agency period opens July 1.

Botterill spoke Wednesday following a news conference introducing new coach Ralph Krueger. Talks between the Sabres and Skinner were on hold until the team hired its coach.

Krueger says he spoke with Skinner by phone and believes he will remain on the team.

The 27-year-old Skinner is a nine-year NHL veteran who has topped 30 goals four times and been considered a key piece for a rebuilding team since Buffalo acquired him in a trade with Carolina in August.

Under NHL rules, the Sabres can offer Skinner an eight-year contract. He would be limited to negotiating a maximum seven-year deal as a free agent.


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