Friday, October 16, 2015

To sit him or to play him, the Sam Reinhart saga

Reprinted with permission from

Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart is on the fence once again. With the return of captain Brian Gionta set for tonight against the Florida Panthers, one forward will need to sit. Sure, head coach Dan Bylsma said that he may dress 13 forwards, but odds of that happening are very slim so somebody's hitting the pressbox in FL and based upon practices yesterday and today, looks as if Reinhart's headed upstairs.

The 2nd-overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft has had an uneven start to the 2015-16 season and Bylsma looks as if he's been doing everything he can to get Reinhart going, or at least make it look as if he belongs. During the last game at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Reinhart got some early powerplay time before he even stepped foot on the ice for a regular shift as the Jackets were in the box a mere 1:07 into the game. He would not see the ice again until later in the period and was on the fourth line with David Legwand and Nic Deslauriers.

Bylsma has done a lot of line-juggling and has been moving some players all over the place. Other than Zemgus Girgensons who's been constantly switching from line to line, back and forth from wing to center, Reinhart has been moving the most as Bylsma tries to find a home for him. Problem is, there might not be one for Reinhart in Buffalo at this time.

Way back on July 11, I had problems fitting Reinhart into the lineup as there's no room for him. With Evander Kane, Ryan O'Reilly, Zemgus Girgensons, Jack Eichel, Tyler Ennis and one of Matt Moulson or, now, Brian Gionta filling out the top six, the only place for Reinhart is in the bottom-six, which really isn't ideal for him.

At the time I wrote that piece, I felt that Reinhart would be best served having Matt Moulson and Jamie McGinn as his wingers saying, "Reinhart plays a 200' game while both McGinn and Gionta can play a pretty solid two-way game and they can impart their wealth of knowledge on the youngin."

Later on in my preview I stuck with the theme of Reinhart centering two vets in Moulson and Gionta on the third line. Moving McGinn up to top-six status created a stir, but it would be a better situation for Reinhart being able to feed a scorer like Moulson while learning the intricacies of the game from Gionta.

If they can't put him in a position to learn on the fly, there's only one alternative, sending him to Rochester. Which is much better than sticking him in the pressbox.

Today's skate/projected lineup:

90 Ryan O’Reilly -- 28 Zemgus Girgensons -- 63 Tyler Ennis
9 Evander Kane -- 15 Jack Eichel -- 12 Brian Gionta
26 Matt Moulson -- 22 Johan Larsson/23 Sam Reinhart -- 88 Jamie McGinn
44 Nicolas Deslauriers -- 17 David Legwand -- 82 Marcus Foligno

4 Josh Gorges -- 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
6 Mike Weber -- 46 Cody Franson
29 Jake McCabe -- 3 Mark Pysyk

31 Chad Johnson
50 Nathan Lieuwen

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