It's Your Time, Sam
Look, I don't want to talk about it. Less than ten minutes to go in practice the day before the home opener, Jack Eichel goes down with a high ankle sprain. It's over and done with. Sabres fans, we have to move on and wish him a speedy recovery. Dwelling on yet another devastating injury won't make us feel better. What might make us feel better? Sam Reinhart.
Imagine if the Sabres didn't draft Eichel last season, say they drafted someone around picks eight to ten. Where would everyone's eyes be? You guessed it, #23. He flew under the radar because of Eichel and if I had to guess, he didn't mind it that way. While I've never met him, Reinhart seems like a very low key, down to earth kid that takes his craft seriously.
We all saw the massive leap he took last season, racking up 23 goals and 20 assists for 43 points, but it was his strength and skating that really stood out compared to the previous year. We saw his high IQ on display along with a willingness to get to the front of the net and use his hand-eye coordination to tip shots, which is something the Sabres have lacked the past few seasons.
So, what should we expect from the second year pro? Point wise, I believe he has the ability to deliver a 60 point season, but I think he'll max out around 55. His shot is surprisingly better than everyone assumed it would be and experience only fuels the force that is Sam Reinhart. The more he plays, the more comfortable and confident he will become.
He will see power play time whether it is with the first or second unit and depending on who Dan Bylsma wants as his penalty killing units, we could see him there as well. I wouldn't expect Bylsma to rack up the minutes on Reinhart, but we should expect the Sabres to lean on him more in Eichel's absence. It's time for Sam Reinhart to remind Sabres fans that he too was a top quality pick and his time is now.