Long term or bridge deal for Sam Reinhart?

July 9, 2018
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Joe DiBiase reporting
@SneakyJoeWGR


The Buffalo Sabres and Sam Reinhart have decisions to make this offseason. Reinhart was tendered as a restricted free agent and now he'll either sign a long term contract with the Sabres or a bridge deal.

Had Reinhart not bounced back last season, we'd almost certainly be looking at a bridge deal. He had 11 points in 38 games going into the new year. Reinhart's start to the year was one of the reasons the Sabres were out of the playoff race by November. From the Winter Classic on, he was on fire with 39 points in 44 games. Now looking back on Reinhart's short career, his point totals are 42, 47, 50. Good not great.

There have been a couple of comparable players that have signed contracts as restricted free agents in the last couple weeks.

First is Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Miller. A player that has had more offensive production in his career than Reinhart, but is a couple years older. At age 24, Miller just got a contract of 5 years, $5.25 million per. His point totals throughout his career are 58, 58, 56, & 43 since he became a regular NHLer.

The differences here might be that Reinhart was a #2 overall pick vs. Miller who was a mid-first rounder. Also, Miller has been more of a complementary player throughout his career. Reinhart has been relied apon as one of Buffalo's best scorers. Between that and the differences in production, their contracts could look very similar.

Another comparable is Sharks forward Tomas Hertl. A skilled forward that is also a couple years older than Reinhart at age 24. Hertl's numbers are slightly worse than both Miller and Reinhart's, but yet he got 4 years at $5.625 million.

It seems that if Reinhart gets a long term contract it'll look something like J.T. Miller or Tomas Hertl's deals. Probably at least 5 years, and over a $5 million cap hit. There is not a lot of precedent for a player of Reinhart's caliber going the bridge route.

Going back to 2012, PK Subban signed a 2 year $2.875 million contract. That was coming off a couple of breakout seasons for Subban. That set him up for an 8 year deal at $9 million per.

A bridge deal would give the Sabres some security. A safety net if Reinhart looks like the player we saw at the beginning of last season, rather than the end of it. However, if he continues to be a near point a game player, like he did from January on, signing him to a long term contract would be a bit of a discount.