Buffalo Sabres: Sam Reinhart Better Prepared for the NHL


Buffalo Sabres: Sam Reinhart Better Prepared for the NHL

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Sam Reinhart had somewhat of a baptism of fire, after making the Buffalo Sabres opening day roster for the 2014-15 campaign. The 19-year old looked overmatched and lost during his nine games in the NHL, before returning to the WHL to work on his skating and conditioning, while also (re)building his confidence.

If his recent comments are to be believed, Reinhart sounds like someone who has progressed nicely in all three aspects, especially his skating. As he told Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News: “(I’m) a lot more confident with it this year than last, there’s no question about that.”

There were times during his initial NHL stint, when the North Vancouver, British Columbia native struggled to deal with the physicality of the NHL. As a result, General Manager Tim Murray stressed the importance of going to the gym, regardless of how tired he was.

Oct 17, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Sam Reinhart (23) watches for the puck during the third period against the Florida Panthers at First Niagara Center. Florida beats Buffalo 1 to 0. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Reinhart discussed this with WGR 550‘s Paul Hamilton: “(Murray) was aware that if I wanted to be in this position that I am now, that I’d have to take some of my game off the ice.

“That was probably the hardest part about going back (to Kootenay), to convince myself to do it…I wanted to be 100 percent every day when I went on the ice, but to be able to get into the gym and to be where I was at both on and off the ice was essential for me.”

Like last season, the 2014 second overall draft pick is aiming to be on the Sabres opening night roster. He said to Harrington: “That’s been the goal and the expectation for a while and I’ve been working at that. I’m motivated to make that jump.”

Assuming this happens, Reinhart will likely be the number three center on the team, behind Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel. However, there is another option.

There is talk of potentially moving him over to play on the wing. At least, this is what Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has alluded to.

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For his part, the son of former NHL All-Star Paul Reinhart is open to this possibility. As he said to Hamilton: “I’ve played wing a lot, so it’s not a strange thing for a young guy to come into the league and have to play wing.

“I’ve played everywhere including defense, so I’m comfortable at any position…I’m prepared for anything thrown at me.”

As you’d expect, there have been various comparisons with Eichel, unsurprising given that both are second overall draft picks. Interestingly, the two have been paired together as roommates for camp, giving them the opportunity to get to know each other better.

Reinhart was asked by Harrington if he had given his teammate any advice on how to handle all the recent attention: “It doesn’t stop and he knows that.

“But watching him go through all that draft stuff, he handled it phenomenally. He’s a mature guy and he knows exactly how to conduct himself on and off the ice.”

Of course, the 2011-12 WHL Rookie of the Year can be forgiven for focusing more on his own situation: “I’m excited to be here this week (at camp). I feel a lot better just from being on the ice for more time than I did last year.”

Overall, there are no guarantees how things will pan out for Reinhart during the 2015-16 campaign. However, he appears more than ready to take the next step in his development towards becoming a key part of the Sabres future.

Next: Jack Eichel Excited for the Sabres Future