Prior to ever being drafted by the Buffalo Sabres, Sam Reinhart pointed to the number of young players getting an opportunity around the league as a positive sign for himself moving forward.
At just 18, Reinhart is hardly out of place on a young Sabres’ team, which boasts four centers 24 or younger.
“I think if you look at a lot of young guys coming into the league, you look at the opportunity that they get, that’s the big thing, you have to be ready for that,” Reinhart said. “That’s probably the best thing that I’m looking forward to, is an opportunity to play and prove myself.”
Buffalo used the second overall pick to select Reinhart in June and the hope is the Vancouver native can make the leap to the NHL just three months later.
“He’s a high-end talent and also extremely intelligent,” Sabres’ general manager Tim Murray told NHL.com. “That’s what you see shift to shift, the intelligence. Some shifts it doesn’t work with the puck, other shifts it does. But you see he’s always on the right side of the puck. He’s always around the puck.
“That’s why he has the puck so much; not because of his high-end skill, but he knows where to go to get the puck, he knows where to go when he has the puck. He’s an extremely intelligent hockey player.”
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound center spent the last three seasons with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League where he scored 99 goals and 252 points in 199 games. His 105 points during the 2013-14 season saw Reinhart finish fourth in points in the WHL.
But it wasn’t until an invite to Team Canada’s senior men’s world championship camp that Reinhart really felt he could handle the NHL game.
“Was pretty amazing to see just how I handled practice one compared to practice three and really picked up the pace. I felt comfortable and pretty quick out there,” said Reinhart. “Really turned out to be a positive experience and it’s really paying off right now.”
In addition to his own experience, Sam has been watching older brothers Max (Calgary Flames) and Griffin (New York Islanders) the last several years as they attempt to follow their father Paul’s footsteps to the NHL.
“Most of it just watching how they handled it from a distance to be honest,” Sam Reinhart said. “Its not as much advice them giving me it’s just seeing how they handle it and the sorts of things they do.”
As far as his biggest asset is concerned, Reinhart says “I think I use my hockey sense to my advantage. That’s a good aspect to have at this age, everything else you can work on. I’ve been motivated and am motivated to keep working on that and be the best I can.”
For a Sabres’ team with a young nucleolus, Reinhart should fit in nicely.