Eastern Edge: Bounce-Back Seasons from Skinner, Andersen, Larkin, and Laine

Brennan Des

2022-04-26

In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll look at a few players who bounced back from disappointing performances last year to have strong showings this year. These are guys that we generally think of good-to-elite but had to rebound and have in a strong way.

Jeff Skinner

Skinner's fantasy value hit rock-bottom after last year's career-worst 22-point pace. It was his second-straight underwhelming season after netting a career-best 40-goals in 2018-2019. Many of us recognized that Skinner's underwhelming production over these past two seasons was a product of unfavourable deployment under coach Ralph Krueger. Despite Skinner proving himself as a goal scorer at multiple points in his career, Krueger mostly used him in a depth role, pairing Skinner with line mates who lacked offensive skill. Fortunately for Skinner, Krueger was replaced with Don Granato late last season, and the benefits of that coaching change have been clear this year. Skinner has bounced back in a big way this season, racking up 33 goals and 29 assists for 62 points in 78 games. He's seeing 17 minutes of action per game this season – a significant increase from last year's 14:30. In addition, he's enjoying a 59% share of the team's power-play time after seeing just 29% last season. Skinner has benefitted from the increased role, posting 11 power-play points this season after tallying just one through 53 games last year.

While the coaching change is a big reason behind Skinner's resurgence, he's also benefitted from playing on a Sabres team that looks much stronger than last year. The team's improved play is due to several factors, including Tage Thompson's breakout, Rasmus Dahlin's bounce-back, and improved leadership/locker room morale following the arrival of Alex Tuch – who has shown great passion and desire to play in Buffalo. With projected star Owen Power recently making his NHL debut, and with other young players on the rise, Buffalo's future looks quite promising. With the team around him improving, I'm reassured that Skinner will be able to carry this season's success into the 2022-2023 campaign.  

Frederik Andersen

The 2020-2021 campaign represented a low point in Andersen's career. He was limited by injuries and posted a 13-8-3