Friday, April 22, 2016

Impressions of, and questions concerning--Sam Reinhart

Reprinted with permission from

Forward--Sam Reinhart
DOB:  November 6,1995 (age, 20)
Draft:  2014, 2nd overall
How acquired:  Drafted by Buffalo
Last contract signed: 2015--3yr. ELC; $925k/yr. + $2.65M yearly performance bonus
Final year of contract:  2017-18

2015-16 Stats:  23 goals, 19 assists, 42 points, -8

What we wrote preseason:  Reinhart spent most of the 2014-15 season in junior with instructions to hit the gym whenever he could. "[He]took that challenge to heart while also playing dominant hockey, especially in the 2015 World Junior's. He came into the Sabres 2015 Development Camp stronger and looked bigger on the ice. He stole the show at the scrimmage with two goals and an assist.

"Reinhart has shown the ability to dominate while playing against his peers, something that bodes well for the future. Near-term, however, he'll need to prove that he can adapt and produce at the NHL-level. Rochester is always an option should he have trouble adapting, but that "fighting weight" of 190, his improved skating, a familiarity with how the pro game is played and his off the charts hockey sense should keep him in the NHL for the rest of his career.

What we wrote mid-season:  "After a slow start, has really found his groove. Reinhart has been working with O'Reilly after practice and it shows as he's improved shot (8 goals on a 12.3% shooting percentage) and has really developed chemistry with O'Reilly. Kid's got the hockey sense and ample skill, is beginning to figure out how to overcome minor size-issues at the NHL-level. Leads the team in plus/minus with a plus-2.

Impressions on his play this year: His goal-scoring touch was a revelation as he had a great rookie campaign scoring a team second-best 23 goals. Gotta hand it to him. As a second-overall pick he was beset by challenge's ranging from GM Tim Murray's instructions to bulk up during a busy junior season to adapting to the physicality of the NHL as well as a move to the wing this season. He came into the season looking boyish, but he rose to every one of the challenges he faced and at locker cleanout we saw a man exuding confidence and ready to begin preparing for next season.

Reinhart's maturation process and the success he found this season can be attributed to a number of things--his own professional work-ethic and drive had him on the ice before and after practices honing his skills, Ryan O'Reilly's work with him during those sessions, and head coach Dan Bylsma put Reinhart in positions to succeed beginning with a net-front presence on the powerplay and a spot on O'Reilly's wing where the two found game-time chemistry. It all worked marvelously.

Questions moving forward:  How much more can he improve his skating? Reinhart's hockey sense allowed him to keep up with "Jack Flash" Eichel and the two are looking like a duo headed into next season, anything he can do to increase his better than average skating will only make that line faster and more dangerous. Can he add a few pounds without hampering his overall game? What will he do for an encore? Is a 50-60 point season out of the question for him next season?

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