Reinhart set to make Sabres’ opening game roster

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Sam Reinhart’s training camp was less than perfect, but the 2014 second overall pick will play in Buffalo’s season opener on Thursday, per the Buffalo News.

If Monday’s practice was any indication, he’ll skate alongside Brian Gionta and Cody Hodgson in that game.

“If I’m competing with those guys and doing well with those guys, I feel confident,” Reinhart said. “It certainly helps playing with good players.

“To be here with the guys and surround myself with them the last few weeks, I came with the mentality I’m going to soak everything in. I feel I’ve learned more than I can ever imagine from all the veteran guys here, and I’m going to keep trying to learn every day from them. I know they’re here to help.”

Although he insists he’s simply focusing on his debut, he has to also be aware that his first nine games will be critical. That’s the number of contests Buffalo can use him in before this counts as the first season of his entry-level contract.

Buffalo used 2012 first-rounder Mikhail Grigorenko in 25 contests in the shortened 2013 campaign and he is consequently entering the last season of his entry-level deal despite the fact that he only has 43 NHL games under his belt. The Sabres will likely remember that experience when evaluating Reinhart.