Buffalo - October 3, 2014 - Sam Reinhart, the vaunted youngster taken second overall this past June by the Sabres, scored his first preseason goal on Wednesday. That’s great news; it gets the preseason monkey off his back and has to feel good to light the lamp on the NHL level as an 18-year-old.
Hopefully, though, the Sabres are smart enough to realize what lay ahead in 2014/15 and choose to send their prized prospect back to junior hockey.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as high on Reinhart as anyone is; he’s the most hyped prospect the Sabres have had since Pierre Turgeon. He’s got a great career ahead of him and he’ll no doubt become a catalyst for any success the Sabres have in the future.
That being said, the team is going to be bad this season. And it’s not like Reinhart is going to be playing top line minutes this year anyway. If he makes the team, he’ll likely see third line minutes at least to start. Instead, letting him go back to junior allows him to dominate the competition for one more season, bringing a boatload of confidence with him to the NHL next season when the rest of the youth movement is prepared to overtake the Sabres.
Sure, there’s a lot to live up to being the second overall pick and historically, the second pick tends to make it to the NHL in his draft year. Since 2000, seven of the guys picked second have made the jump right to the NHL: Eric Staal, his brother Jordan, Drew Doughty, Victor Hedman, Tyler Seguin, Gabriel Landeskog and Aleksander Barkov. That’s a pretty good group, no?
But just because those guys made the jump, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world if Reinhart doesn’t. After all, six of those #2 overall picks didn’t make the jump the next season: Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Evgeni Malkin, Bobby Ryan, James van Riemsdyk and Ryan Murray. Granted, the seasons Murray and Malkin were drafted, there were lockouts so it’s uncertain if they would’ve waited otherwise. Still, that’s a pretty good group itself.
So good for Sam for getting his first NHL goal on Wednesday night, but as someone who cares for the franchise and ultimately wants to see bigger and better than anything the franchise has ever seen before, I want Sam Reinhart as far away from the NHL as he can possibly be this season.
See you next year, Sam.
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