Buffalo Sabres: Is Sam Reinhart primed for a breakout season?

Getting a one-year deal from the Buffalo Sabres, Sam Reinhart will be looking to finally reach the potential that made him a high pick in 2014.

Going into this season, there will be a lot of talk about the new additions the Buffalo Sabres made to help this team reach the playoffs but they alone won’t get the job done.

Players like Taylor Hall, Eric Staal and Cody Eakin were brought in to help elevate this core group that hasn’t gotten the job done. One of the players who fall under that category is Sam Reinhart.

Up until this point, Reinhart knows he hasn’t lived up to the expectations that came with him being selected with the second overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. The 24-year-old is sixth in scoring among the players taken in the draft with 255 points in 400 career games.

While hindsight is always crucial at the time the pick was made but some will point to Leon Draisaitl, David Pastrnak, and Brayden point as more worthwhile options. However, Reinhart has been a productive player but needs to find another gear.

Last season he recorded 22 goals and 50 points in 69 games after putting up 65 in 82 the year before. What was also concerning are the struggles he’s had on the defensive side of the puck which has been a focal point of the Sabres issues.

Getting a one-year $5.2 million is certainly a nice chunk of change for Reinhart and now he’ll have the motivation to go out and earn a long-term deal.

“I think I’ve done a lot I want to be recognized for and be here long-term for sure, there’s no question about it,” Reinhart told Jenna Callari of WKBW. “Do I think I’ve proven everything? No absolutely not. I don’t think anyone can say that with the lack of success we’ve had as a team.”

Under Ralph Krueger, Reinhart saw his ice time jump up from 18:57 to 20:38 per game. If he sticks on the top line, he should hopefully benefit from playing with Jack Eichel and Hall which would be an upgrade on Victor Olofsson.

While getting more offensively out of Reinhart will be crucial, the defensive part of the game can’t be ignored either. He is also going to be competing for a chunk of the salary cap pie that could be used on Hall next off-season along with Rasmus Dahlin.

At some point, the Sabres front office is going to get an idea of who can be relied upon to help this team take the next step and you can bet that Reinhart is one of those players who has the spotlight on him and is in the be position to take the next step forward.

What do you think about Reinhart’s contract situation next season? Can he reach another level to his play? Let us know in the comments below.