Sabres' Reinhart still looking for a new deal

August 21, 2018

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Sam Reinhart is the only remaining Sabre that has not signed a contract. The restricted free agent is looking for a little bit south of $6 million, while the Sabres would like to keep it under $5 million.

There are so many different ways this could go. It could be a long-term, eight-year deal or it could be a two to three-year bridge deal. There’s even a possibility that Reinhart could just bet on himself and take a one-year contract.

In my mind, the one thing he can’t do is hold out. I think it’s foolish for players going into their second contract to hold out. Rasmus Ristolainen did it, but he wanted to skate in training camp even without a contract.

Reinhart played at a 73-point pace in the final 44 games of last season. In that stretch, Reinhart scored 20 goals and 39 points, which ranked him 35th in the NHL. The problem was his first 38 games where he scored five goals and 11 points. That’s a 24-point pace for the season.

Reinhart had a very nice rookie season, but struggled for almost a year in a half after that.

In the final 44 games of last season, Reinhart was back around the net doing what he does best. He was making smart little plays using great vision. That had all gone away for a long period of time. He had become a turnover machine, which isn’t his game. When he’s playing well, he might be Buffalo’s smartest player. Reinhart said when the calendar turned 2018, he took a look at himself, “I took a step back and I said to myself, I’m playing my game. I think it’s more important for me to play my game and it’s more beneficial for the team and me to play my game and however that fits into the team. I don’t want to say that I said, ‘Just screw it’, but I think it was important for me to get back to doing what I did best in the past.

“I think I was able to find a way to how it fits into our team game and hopefully I'll start with that.”

Reinhart has played in some big games in junior hockey, including being the captain of Team Canada that won the World Junior championship in 2015. The winger knows the team must be ready to start this training camp, “I think it takes more from the beginning, everyone coming in ready to go, ready to fully compete on a consistent basis.”

Before Ryan O’Reilly was traded to St. Louis, he said losing had become acceptable in the Sabres room. Reinhart didn’t disagree, “For sure, that’s something that’s crept in. I think when you do it enough, it tends to feel that way. It’s not going to take one-two guys to get that feeling out of the room, it takes everybody showing up and really hating that feeling.   

“There were a lot of days throughout the year that it really wasn’t fun being here and that’s unfortunate because you should have fun being here, enjoying yourself at the rink and when you’re losing and that atmosphere is creeping in, it’s a tough feeling to get rid of.”

That was Reinhart after last season ended. I would think now, he’s re-energized with 10 players departing and nine new players coming in. Carter Hutton is known to be an excellent locker-room leader. Matt Hunwick is a solid veteran for the young defense.