2014 NHL Draft

Trade: Panthers land Sam Reinhart; Sabres gain 2022 first-rounder, goalie

Trade: Panthers land Sam Reinhart, Sabres end busy day of NHL Draft
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Whether the moves work out in the long run or not, you can’t accuse the Buffalo Sabres of slacking. Following a frenetic Friday (including picking Owen Power first overall), the Sabres stayed busy on Saturday by trading Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers confirmed that they traded a 2022 first-round pick and goalie Devon Levi to the Sabres for Sam Reinhart.

Pierre LeBrun reports a key detail: it could turn into a 2023 first-rounder:

Let’s quickly review the Sabres’ Friday, which bled into Saturday:

It’s probably not yet time for Sabres GM Kevyn Adams to nap, but he’s been busy. For all the work the Sabres did, there’s still the lingering issue of a possible Jack Eichel trade …

Panthers trade for Sam Reinhart; Sabres busy NHL Draft weekend continues

Reinhart, 25, is a pending RFA with arbitration rights. If there’s a short way to describe Reinhart as a player, it’s probably “Better than most believe he is.”

Despite being limited to 54 games in 2020-21, Reinhart scored 25 goals and 40 points. That marked his fourth-consecutive 22+ goal season, and he hit that mark in five of his last six campaigns. Beyond his career-high of 65 points from 2018-19, Reinhart’s also generated 50 points on two other occasions.

As that tweet above notes, Reinhart’s game isn’t just about scoring. He’s generally a smart player, and perhaps his understated style left some disappointed (being that Reinhart was the second pick of the 2014 NHL Draft).

Speaking of the 2014 NHL Draft, the Panthers now employ three of the top four picks: Aaron Ekblad (first), Reinhart (second), and Sam Bennett (fourth). Again, Reinhart is an RFA, and so is Bennett (also 25, also with arbitration rights).

For the Sabres, the main takeaway is that 2022 first-rounder. Devon Levi, 19, was a seventh-round pick (212th overall) in 2020. Hockeydb has his limited stats.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Islanders on Ho-Sang returning to organization: ‘It’s in his hands’

Joshua Ho-Sang AHL
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The New York Islanders confirmed what Joshua Ho-Sang announced via, um, Eminem: Ho-Sang is back with the organization.

Granted, a return to the Islanders isn’t guaranteed, if Ho-Sang manages it at all in 2019-20. Instead, Ho-Sang is reporting to the Islanders’ lowly AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Regardless, Ho-Sang announced his hockey return with style:

View this post on Instagram

Time to play hockey 🙊

A post shared by josh ho-sang (@66jhosang) on


Mutual benefits

While the Islanders boast a mighty 22-7-2 record, Bridgeport ranks as one of the worst teams in the AHL and its lowest-scoring squad.

This sets up a situation where all parties could gain if things go well, as The Athletic’s Arthur Staples explains (sub required). Bridgeport could use the scoring and the parent club might benefit from some injury insulation. Meanwhile, Ho-Sang must prove himself to revive his professional hockey career.

“It’s in his hands”

The Islanders make it sound like the world is Ho-Sang’s oyster, although some might read a bit of a … parental tone into GM Lou Lamoriello’s remarks.

“He just has to go there and do what he has to do as a player and conform to the environment and they’ll be no issues,” Lamoriello said Tuesday, via the team website.

“He was the last cut going down to the American league, so he did have a good training camp. Where he’s at right now physically and mentally, we’ll just have to wait and see. But from our end of it, he’ll have a clean slate. It’s in his hands.”

Barry Trotz implies that it might take some time before Ho-Sang changes minds.

“Right now, he’s got to get back and get back playing before he’s even an option for me,” Trotz said.

So, it’s good that the Islanders are saying the right things. Don’t blame Ho-Sang and others for remaining frustrated, though.

The case for Ho-Sang as an NHL player

Certainly, from here, it’s maddening to see the 23-year-old fail to make a full-time NHL impact.

Seemingly from the moment he was drafted 28th overall by the Islanders in 2014, Ho-Sang became a polarizing presence. While Ho-Sang made missteps along the way, particularly being late to training camp in 2015, he’s argued for his presence with blinding skill.

For quite some time, the answer seemed to be that maybe Ho-Sang should simply be playing for a different NHL team. Instead, the situation’s dragged on and on. Honestly, you could argue we’ve been waiting for some closure since Garth Snow was Islanders GM.

The rest of the NHL absorbs some of the blame, mind you. Ho-Sang passing through waivers right before the season began still leaves me scratching my head, honestly.

No, Ho-Sang isn’t perfect, but it’s hard to believe that he isn’t good enough to land a spot as one of 12 starting forwards on one of the NHL’s 31 teams.

Just about every objective sign, including this heat map from Hockey Viz, argues that Ho-Sang could benefit plenty of teams. Frankly, his defensive flaws might also be exaggerated:

Ho-Sang ultimately asked for a trade after barely failing to make the team out of training camp. The Islanders failed to “consummate” a trade, and Ho-Sang left the Islanders organization altogether since Oct. 1 … until now.

The Sound Tigers play their next game on Wednesday, but it’s unclear if Ho-Sang will be ready. Eventually, we’ll see if Ho-Sang runs with this opportunity, though — assuming the slate is truly clean.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Bruins lack secondary scoring, won’t get it from Donato for now

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You can’t ask for a much bigger difference between Ryan Donato last season versus this one, so far. It says a lot about small sample sizes – both ways – and also how dangerous it can be to just assume that a 22-year-old will just develop on an upward trajectory.

  • In 2017-18, Donato impressed, scoring five goals and four assists for nine points in 12 games despite fairly modest ice time (14:42 TOI average).
  • So far in 2018-19, Donato managed a single point (one goal) in 11 games, receiving just 12:06 TOI per game. His possession stats have been ghastly, and his puck went from stellar last season (20.8 shooting percentage) to below average lately (8.3 percent this season).

Considering his offensive and defensive struggles, it’s not all that shocking that the Bruins sent Donato to the AHL on Thursday.

In hindsight, it makes sense that Donato would receive some extra seasoning in the AHL, actually.

Last season, the 56th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft went from strong work at Harvard straight to the NHL, taking off during his first reps with the Bruins.

Being such a quick study was a heartening sign for the B’s and their fans, yet Donato might have set the bar a little too high for himself. Going to the AHL could allow the talented scorer to gain some swagger back, as he’s almost certain to be a big fish in a small pond at that level.

This does bring a few questions to mind, though:

How long will this demotion last?

Again, there are positive elements to playing against less robust competition, but are the Bruins aiming for an extended stay? Is this instead something of a wake-up call?

As a 22-year-old, Donato has time … but not as much as, say, an 18-year-old or 19-year-old being sent down as to avoid burning a year off of a rookie contract.

Are the Bruins too top-heavy?

One could imagine a scenario where the Bruins would “spread the wealth” rather than consolidating power with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak on the same, monstrously dominant line.

That’s not to say such a strategy would be better than the status quo, but this could be a smart time to tinker. During stretches of last season, one or more of those forwards was out of commission, yet the Bruins kept humming along for the most part.

Theoretically, a player like Donato or Jake DeBrusk might be able to get by as a Bergeron or Marchand does their heavy lifting. It’s not outrageous to picture Donato fitting in with Bergeron like Conor Sheary did with Sidney Crosby (and seems to be with Jack Eichel). In a salary cap league, it can sometimes behoove a team to spread talent out.

The simple numbers argue that it’s a question the Bruins shouldn’t outright dismiss.

While that top line is as electric as ever – really, if you’re looking at play in all three zones, they still might be the best – the Bruins are getting much production from other trios. David Krejci is the only other Boston forward in the neighborhood of a point-per-game with nine in 12 contests; you have to reach down to DeBrusk at three points to find the fifth most-prolific forward.


Again, the above considerations don’t necessarily paint a dire picture. After all, the Bruins are off to a solid 7-3-2 start, placing them predictably in third place in the Atlantic Division.

Still, we see time and time again that depth can make the difference during a deep playoff run.

Donato doesn’t have to be that guy who moves the needle for the Bruins, but Boston should at least keep the door open for him to give it another shot, ideally sometime soon.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Trade would be best for both Islanders, Ho-Sang


The old New York Islanders regime seemed to be beyond the point of no return with fledgling prospect Josh Ho-Sang, and it doesn’t sound like things are a whole lot better now that Lou Lamoriello is in charge.

In what’s becoming a stomach-churning tradition, Ho-Sang sounded off on his situation (in the AHL, and in his opinion, not even used all that much by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers) in a candid interview with Brett Cyrgalis of The New York Post.

Ho-Sang, 22, believes that management already had their minds made up about him, and also believes that he’s receiving mixed messages.

“They tell me they want me to be a top-six forward up there, but I’m not a top-six forward down here, so it’s confusing,” Ho-Sang said. “Sometimes, it’s like you’re sprinting with a rubber band on. You constantly have tension. You run until you’re exhausted and then the band is going to pull you back. If I was going to say anything, it would be just watch. I’m just pointing it out.”

(The full story is absolutely worth your time.)

Unfortunately, the AHL doesn’t share ice-time information, so you need to rely on firsthand accounts of whether Ho-Sang is really receiving proper opportunities or not. Isles Blog’s Rob Taub captured the dueling takes on his work in the AHL, noting that: on one hand, there are opportunities for Ho-Sang, yet:

Indeed, it’s puzzling that the Islanders organization wouldn’t have issues with 33-year-old Steve Bernier seemingly getting equal or better opportunities than a player 11 years younger.

To clarify, NHL teams face competing motivations when it comes to nursing prospects at lower levels, including the AHL.

While you want merit to be important and that team to be competitive, it’s also imperative that younger players receive opportunities to sink or swim, and to learn from mistakes. At minimum, teams need to optimize their assets, and “burying” Ho-Sang only tanks his already-declining trade value.

And let’s be honest. At this point, Ho-Sang’s aired his grievances in brutally honest ways a few times now. It’s true that such a strategy won’t really make friends in the front office – especially in the almost comically secretive world of hockey – it’s also plausible that Ho-Sang feels like he doesn’t have a lot of other choices.

It sure feels like bridges have already been burned, and neither side is doing a whole lot to rebuild. That’s unfortunate because, as incomplete as his game may be, Ho-Sang’s already shown plenty of flashes of brilliant skill, including at the NHL level.

Honestly, from the outside looking in, it would probably be wise for both sides to move on via trade, even if the Islanders likely would have received a much better return if they moved Ho-Sang … a few impasses ago.

For one thing, a trade would improve Ho-Sang’s morale, while opening up space for a player who has more of a clean slate with the franchise. There might be a temptation to roll your eyes at Ho-Sang’s predicament, but an unhappy player can be a catalyst for an unhappy locker room.

That eloquent rubber band metaphor was a not-so-subtle clue that Ho-Sang is truly languishing in the AHL, a notion backed up by mediocre numbers (zero goals, four assists in nine games, -8 rating) and tweets like these:

(His Twitter banner also reads: “Your love makes me strong; your hate makes me unstoppable.”)

While the Islanders have scored at a more respectable rate than many expected (a decent 30 goals in 10 games, a rate that ties them for 16th in the NHL), it’s easy to picture scenarios where Ho-Sang could give them a boost, even if his gambling style would drive Barry Trotz up the wall. A stronger team would likely aim to have Ho-Sang as its third-line winger instead of Leo Komarov, as much as Trotz and Lamoriello seem enamored with hits.

Again, we’ve likely passed the best-case scenario.

Yet, like Eric Duhatschek discussed in The Athletic (sub required), sometimes you don’t have to “win” a trade to improve chemistry and morale. Duhatschek discussed as much in remembering former GM Cliff Fletcher’s philosophies.

Mostly he made the trade to shake up his own team, which he felt needed a reminder that, in professional sport, change eventually follows if things start to sputter. In short, Fletcher wasn’t necessarily trying to “win” the trade, the way so many GMs nowadays feel they have to do.

He believed that change for the sake of change sometimes had a positive impact on the whole, because it stirred up the chemistry of a team that was running flat.

Have we reached that point where the Islanders should simply trade Ho-Sang for, well, another organization’s version of Ho-Sang?

His prodigious skill might make that a tough gamble to stomach, yet I’d say yes.

At worst, the Islanders just get a new coat of paint for an old problem. Ideally, though, Ho-Sang would receive a fresh start while the Isles might receive a player more likely to help them in the future.

A trade wouldn’t just be an act of mercy for Ho-Sang. Chances are, it would also be the best thing for both the team and the player.

In the meantime, we’ll reach for our popcorn, waiting for the next wave of drama from this combustible situation.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Injuries prompt Predators to give prospect Kamenev a look


A 6-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning may indicate that the Nashville Predators’ offense is on the rebound, but the truth is that they haven’t gotten much going lately.

They’ve been held to low shots on goal totals the last three games and have lost four of their last six.

With James Neal a late scratch for that last game and other Predators seemingly a little bruised in that lopsided win, there is one plus for Nashville as they face the Panthers in Florida tonight: they’ll get a look at forward prospect Vladislad Kamenev in his NHL debut.

The 20-year-old was a second-round pick (42nd overall in 2014) and is putting up solid numbers in the AHL, with 24 points in 31 games.

He won’t be asked to lug useless linemates up and down the ice, either. Kamenev is slated to line up with solid (if streaky) forwards Colin Wilson and Craig Smith today.

An interesting opportunity for Kamenev, and he could gain some favor with management if he helps the Predators earn some points to close out a back-to-back set in Florida.

In other news surrounding that game, James Reimer‘s playing for Roberto Luongo … who might have been hurt during warm-ups?