Buffalo Sabres: Sam Reinhart still has a lot to prove

EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16: Sam Reinhart
EDMONTON, AB - OCTOBER 16: Sam Reinhart /

By not extending Sam Reinhart this summer, the Buffalo Sabres are essentially telling him he still needs to show he is worth a long-term deal.

If Sam Reinhart was hoping to have his future resolved this summer, he was sadly mistaken. As far as the Buffalo Sabres are concerned, they’re still not convinced about his long-term potential to be a success.

At least that’s one way of interpreting recent developments. As reported by WGR 550‘s Paul Hamilton, while the Sabres are keen to sign Jack Eichel to a contract extension as soon as possible, Reinhart will have to wait another year.

Understandably, general manager Jason Botterill tried to put a positive spin on the contract situation. Speaking to Hamilton and other members of the media earlier this week, he said:

"“It’s just an area where we’re excited with Sam, but I don’t think something from a contract standpoint will be happening this summer. We have him under contract for another year and we’ll see how things play out and go from there.”"

In reality, the last part of Botterill’s comments tell you everything you need to know about this situation. The Sabres essentially still want Reinhart to prove himself.

Statistics can often be misleading. On a very basic level, the 21-year-old scored five more points this past season, compared to his 2015-16 campaign.

However, the perception is Reinhart actually took a step back, after an encouraging rookie season. There were stories from the media about him becoming arrogant in his demeanor both on and off the ice, acting as if he’d already made it.

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Perhaps best highlighting North Vancouver native’s change in attitude, was his work ethic. After regularly putting in an extra 45 minutes after practice during his rookie campaign, he hardly attending any extra workouts last season.

Interestingly, this changed after the last season controversy surrounding Reinhart being late for a team meeting and having to sit out a game. Perhaps serving as a much-needed wake up call, he again became a regular at post practice sessions.

Now, the 2011-12 WHL Rookie of the Year has been given another wake up call, with his contract situation. He will become a restricted free agent after the 2017-18 season.

In some respects, you could argue this situation is unfair on Reinhart, as most of the team took a step back last season, especially during the first 21 games without Eichel. However, you can also understand the Sabres wanting to get matters resolved with the likes of Eichel and Robin Lehner first.

Overall, the approach regarding the 2014 second overall draft pick probably makes a lot of sense. Now, it’s up to him to use the situation as motivation, to force the Sabres’ hand next summer.

Next: Is it worth signing Jaromir Jagr?

What’s your take on Botterill’s approach regarding Reinhart? Do you agree with it, or are you concerned about how it might impact the relationship between the two sides? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.