August 3, 2018 / 3:39 AM / a year ago

Hurricanes trade Skinner to Buffalo for prospect, 3 picks

FILE PHOTO: Dec 31, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner (53) celebrates his third period goal with teammates against the Washington Capitals at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 4-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images (TAGS: Sport Ice Hockey NHL) *** Local Caption *** 2016-01-01T021135Z_275162415_NOCID_RTRMADP_3_NHL-WASHINGTON-CAPITALS-AT-CAROLINA-HURRICANES.JPG

After months of speculation, the Carolina Hurricanes have traded longtime center Jeff Skinner.

The club sent Skinner to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday in exchange for winger prospect Cliff Pu and a trio of draft picks — a second-round pick in 2019 and third- and sixth-round picks in 2020. Both teams announced the move Thursday evening.

Skinner, 26, is coming off a subpar season by his standards. His 24 goals and 49 points were his fewest since the 2014-15 season, and his minus-27 rating was a career low. But he played in all 82 games and has 379 career points in 579 career games.

The 2011 Calder Trophy winner as the league’s top rookie, Skinner is due to make $6 million this upcoming season then hit the open market. The Hurricanes confirmed in May that they had discussed Skinner in trade talks with other teams, and the Chicago Blackhawks reportedly checked in on the possibility of trading for Skinner last month.

“With Jeff becoming an unrestricted free agent next summer, this was the right time for us to move on, and to provide Jeff with a fresh start in Buffalo,” Carolina general manager Don Waddell told the media. “We talked to every team in the league over the past four months, and ultimately the Sabres were the team that provided us with the best value in return, including three picks and a prospect we like in Cliff Pu.”

Pu, 20, was a third-round pick by Buffalo in 2016 and signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the club last October. He had 84 points (29 goals, 55 assists) in 65 games for London and Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League last season.

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