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Hamilton: Buffalo Sabres sign Sam Reinhart to 1-year deal

Reinhart has scored at least 22 goals in three of his four seasons and had one year where he got 22 goals and 65 points.
Credit: AP
Buffalo Sabres forward Sam Reinhart (23) controls the puck during the third period of an hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, in Buffalo N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sam Reinhart signed one-year deal with the Buffalo Sabres which avoided arbitration. The contract was for a surprisingly low $5.2 million. It’s the second time Reinhart has not gotten a long-term deal from the Sabres.

Former Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill inked him to a two-year-deal in 2018 and now current GM Kevyn Adams signed Reinhart for just one season. That’s the puzzling part, why have two different general managers declined to offer a productive player a long-term contract?

Reinhart has scored at least 22 goals in three of his four seasons and had one year where he got 22 goals and 65 points. He’s one of the few players the Sabres have that will go to the tough areas to score a goal. 

It has to be frustrating for a productive player not to have a long-term deal even made available to him. The winger said, "I think every player would be open to a long-term deal, but unfortunately that’s not always the case and it’s not always available, so I’m certainly comfortable playing on short-term deals and this is just another one.”

We are all in challenging times and the NHL has no idea where the league is heading and how long it will take for the league revenues to recover from the pandemic. Adams has signed Reinhart, Taylor Hall, Linus Ullmark, Brandon Montour, Matt Irwin and Tobi Rieder to one-year contracts. Zemgus Girgensons and Tage Thompson both got three-year deals with Girgensons at an average of $2.2 million the head scratcher. 

Reinhart sees that Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner both have eight-year deals. From what he said, a long-term deal was not even made available to him so when does it if ever get to the point where he feels snubbed? He did say he is comfortable playing on short-term deals, but don’t forget, he held out all through training camp before signing in 2018. 

If things work out, and Hall wants to comeback to the Sabres, then trades would have to be made to fit that salary. 

On the ice, there’s never a question about Reinhart. He has shown that he’s willing to go to the tough areas and that’s why he averages 22 goals every 82 games. Many of his detractors say the reason he puts up numbers is he plays a lot with Eichel. That is true, but he also scores goals because he has the ability to find the open crease. 

Reinhart isn’t big, but he’s good along the walls too. He’s able to make plays and win battles in traffic. 

The negative is that he does go long stretches without scoring. Before the pandemic hit, Reinhart hadn’t scored in eight games. In December, he went nine games without a goal. 

It will be interesting to see where Ralph Krueger uses Reinhart. With Taylor Hall arriving, Reinhart could wind up playing with Eric Staal and Skinner or maybe Cody Eakin and Victor Olofsson. We all try to figure out what the lines will be, but the reality is, by the second period of Game 1, the lines will likely be shuffled anyway. 

Botterill and Adams will never make public what their reasons are for not even offering Reinhart a contract with some length to it. Moving forward I have to wonder what the kids future is with the Sabres and if he even wants a future with the team. 

On Thursday, the Sabres avoided arbitration with Olofsson signing him to a two-year, $6.1 million deal. 

That leaves Casey Mittelstadt as the only player left to sign. If you include Dylan Cozens, the Sabres have around $2.8 million of cap space available. That also includes the $1.275 million left over from last season. If Adams wants to he can spread that over two seasons.