Do the Sabres consider Sam Reinhart to be a generational talent? Sabres Assistant GM Kevin Devine heaped heavy praise on the Kootenay forward. Devine says, on playmaking ability, Reinhart might be the best to come out in a decade.
Sam Reinhart has been a highly touted prospect for as long as anyone has been talking about the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. At the release of the NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings, Reinhart’s ranking as the fourth best skater came as a surprise to many. He moved up to the third overall spot in the final rankings behind Sam Bennett and Aaron Ekblad.
While NHL Central Scouting ranks Reinhart #3, ISS (International Scouting Services) which includes North American and European prospects in the same master list, has him at the top.
This morning we asked Devine what it is about Reinhart that would make him worthy of the #2 overall pick.
“It goes back to hockey sense. I don’t know that I’ve seen a guy that can make plays like Sam can in the last 10 to 15 years…his playmaking ability. That’s the thing that stands out for him. He sees the ice really well. Knows how long to hold the puck, when to pass it, when to shoot it…just uncanny hockey sense.
“I haven’t seen a guy that can make plays like Sam with the puck, in the playmaking sense, over the last 10 to 15 years.”
Devine seems to be more impressed with Reinhart than many others, but there’s no denying the talent and the vision. Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus and ESPN writes of Reinhart:
“best pure passer in the draft class. His ability to dictate tempo elevates his game to a distinct level. Reinhart can make all kinds of plays with the puck, and his elite hockey sense stands out regularly in terms of the passing lanes he sees that even an observer with a bird's-eye view may not spot. He has great hands and can make a lot of plays when he goes one-on-one against a defenseman. He has average size (6-1, 183 pounds), but will work hard in battles and can play an average physical game, although I have heard some scouts criticize him in that area. One of the skills that distinguishes Reinhart is his smart play in the defensive zone, shutting down top players and possessing top-quality abilities on the penalty kill.”
The hockey smarts seem to be a big part of the selling point on Reinhart. Devine talks hockey smarts. Tim Murray praises his hockey IQ, saying that every time he’s seen Reinhart, he’s the smartest player on the ice.
We asked Samson (sweet name right?) about those bloodlines, and the hockey smarts that come with it. He admits it’s a strength of his game, and that he’s quite proud of it.
“Dad and I got talking…about what you’re thinking on the ice. He’s thinking back to when he played and he doesn’t ever recall thinking ‘Oh I have to be here’. I never know what I’m thinking out there. It’s probably a nice trait to have, and it sounds like something I have picked up from my dad.”
“It’s not something you can teach.”
What are the odds the Sabres swing for Samson Reinhart at #2? I’d say it’s a very good bet. Perhaps it is hyperbole from Devine and he’s trying to smoke-screen the Panthers, but I don’t think that’s all that likely. The Panthers, in my opinion are more likely to take top d-man Aaron Ekblad or Sam Bennett (who might be more suited to play the wing). Florida has good youth down the middle with former Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau and last year’s second overall pick, Alex Barkov.
Consider just how much the Sabres seem to like Reinhart…if they end up passing on him, it’d be a good indication of their belief in the player they take instead.
The draft is June 27th.