With the acquisition of Jack Eichel, the Buffalo Sabres rebuild is essentially complete. With the prospect cupboard restocked and prospects beginning to transition to higher levels of play, the Sabres are now playing a waiting game as they see what their prospects can do. Sam Reinhart is one of those players the Sabres are up in the air on.
While the former second-overall pick from the 2014 NHL draft is arguably the team’s second-best prospect behind Eichel, his rank in the depth charts has taken a hit due to outside additions. With Ryan O’Reilly and Evander Kane now in Buffalo, he’s become an overshadowed prospect.
O’Reilly easily steps in as the Sabres top centre next season and while Eichel has all the tools to become a bonafide first line pivot, he needs time to adjust and slots in nicely as the second-line guy. With Eichel and O’Reilly lined up on the first two lines, the Sabres will have one of the most skilled one-two punches in the league.
The problem this leaves the team with is where does Sam Reinhart fit in?
The belief early on was that Reinhart would need some time in the AHL to season his game before he was ready for a full-time NHL stint. Last year coming into camp Reinhart was not strong enough nor skilled enough to keep up with the NHL game and was sent back to the WHL to further develop his game.
While down in the WHL, Reinhart worked hard to improve his game. When he came to town for the prospects camp he looked like a brand new player. His skating had greatly improved and he looked much strong on the puck. Last year as a member of the Kootenay Ice, he recorded an impressive 65 points in 47 games while helping Canada win gold at the World Championships.
Reinhart has shown that will compete for a spot on the Sabres roster this season and if he continues his strong play the Sabres will have a hard time saying no. The only problem is the guys in front. When looking at O’Reilly, Eichel and Girgensons, the Sabres essentially have their top three centre positions filled and leaving Reinhart on the 4th line would be a big mistake.
It’s important not to forget the skill that Reinhart brings to the table as an intelligent playmaking forward with the ability to make the players around him better. Which brings an interesting proponent to moving him to the wing.
If you could put Reinhart on the wing alongside Eichel it would give the two, time to develop in the NHL together and further grow their chemistry. They are bot extremely talented young players who possess dynamic skillsets.
Sam Reinhart might very well be ready to take a step into the NHL next season. However, the Sabres have a logjam at centre. Reinhart’s future with the club might begin on the wing.