Philadelphia, PA (WGR 550) -- The Sabres never had to decide on the defenseman because Florida kept its pick and took Aaron Ekblad number one.
I was a little surprised Buffalo took its full three minutes, but Tim Murray went to the mic, thanked nobody and just said, “The Buffalo Sabres take Sam Reinhart.” Short, sweet and to the point.
Even though the centerman has never been to Buffalo, he had an inkling that he’d be a Sabre, “I’ve been visualizing myself in this uniform and I’m thrilled to really make an impact there and go to Buffalo for the first time.”
I talked to Reinhart Thursday about if he did his research and of course he did, “It’s a young team, they have a lot of good, young defensemen and I’m familiar with the forwards as well, so I’m excited for an opportunity to step in there and play right away. I know it’s not going to be given to me right away, I’m only going to do everything I can to step in and have an impact and take advantage of every opportunity.” The newest Sabre went on to say, “I’m familiar with Myers and Hodgson, I practiced with them over in Switzerland for two days, so I’ve talked about the possibility quite a few times and they’re exceptional players.”
Reinhart’s dad had a long career in Calgary and two of his brothers have been drafted. The Sabres center says, “Playing against them, I don’t think I’ve ever played against Max in my career, but I’ve played with him. I played with and against Griff numerous times and on this stage where we all want to be, it’ll make it that much bigger.”
When I met Reinhart at the combine the thing I talked about a lot was how mature he seemed. I think he is mature above his years which may help him if Tim Murray wants him to play right away. I can almost assuredly tell you that Ted Nolan would like him to develop another year in junior so we’ll see.
Now let’s look at the Sabres at center. I don’t think Hodgson is a center anymore as he played better at the end of the season on wing and played some wing and excelled for Canada at the World Championships. Going forward, Reinhart and Zemgus Girgensons will likely be Buffalo’s top two centers. Nolan and Murray both like Tyler Ennis so can he excel as a third line center with maybe Johan Larsson centering the fourth line? You may have noticed I didn’t mention Mikhail Grigorenko. He’s 19 so you can’t say he’s not going to develop, but I’ve seen nothing in games or practice that would say he’ll be anything more than an AHL player. He has a long way to go to get ahead of any of these four.
The other question mark is next year’s draft, can Buffalo secure a player that’s even better than Reinhart?
Tim Murray tried to get another first round player in this draft. He said he offered seven teams all three of his second round picks and was turned down. He said he could've moved up two spots to 28, but declined.