Sabres Sam Reinhart Shows Mettle In Earning Medal


Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Reinhart of the Buffalo Sabres had managed to become almost an afterthought. Most of the conversation involving the Sabres centers (no pun intended) around this season’s fierce battle between them and the handful of other NHL bottom-feeders elbowing for the pole position on Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel’s draft rights.

Reinhart became the second overall pick and the top forward drafted in 2014, when Sabres General Manager Tim Murray famously uttered his name in a no-nonsense fashion from the podium in Philadelphia.

Make no mistake that Sabres fans were certainly glad to have Reinhart aboard. But with reaching the pinnacle of the 2015 NHL Draft Buffalo’s not-so-secret endgame and overshadowing everything else, what the Swords did in Philly was mostly choose the next piece of their puzzle. If all went according to plan, Reinhart was hopefully going to be a shining gem in their ultimate crown known as McEichel.

Reinhart started this year in Buffalo where his game was relatively lackluster; recording one assist in his time there.

To avoid dissolving the first year of his entry level contract, after the nine game maximum allowance the Sabres sent him back west to his junior team, the Kootenay Ice. There he returned to his dominating self. But that was to be expected as he’d already proven himself at that level.

Then however came the World Junior Championship. Reinhart was named an alternate captain for Team Canada on a roster that included the celebrated McDavid, who himself served as the other alternate.

And Reinhart took a back seat to nobody.

The future Sabres center’s five goals and eleven points topped all-comers in the tournament. And though it wasn’t one of those dazzling, classic coast-to-coast overtime tally’s that become instant hockey folklore, it was still his goal that ultimately provided the margin of victory in Canada’s win over Russia. In the end, it was that goal that won the Gold Medal for Canada.

The WJC is a chance for players to size themselves up against some of the best NHL prospects in the world all within a very condensed time frame.

But it’s more than that for Reinhart. It was a chance to play for his country, in his country. And when your country’s Canada, the microscope is focused in that much tighter. The spotlight, that much brighter.

And over the past few weeks Sam Reinhart didn’t shy away from that spotlight, instead he took it on head first and earned his place in it.

No amount of cash can buy the confidence that such a performance on such a large stage will bring to a young player, and that confidence will only serve to make Reinhart a better player than he is already.

I’ll state right here that no one is a bigger proponent of the Sabres going all in to draft McEichel than I am. But truth be told, in this tournament Sam Reinhart gave the world a sneak preview of what’s to come in the NHL.

And he reminded Buffalo Sabres fans everywhere that this gem they already have might just very well end up being the brightest one in that crown.