Buffalo - October 7, 2014 - Kicking the tires is always a good idea when eyeing an investment. You want to make sure you’re getting a quality product and not wasting your money.
So a little tire-kicking is what the Sabres will do in the case of their second overall pick, Sam Reinhart. The 18-year-old center will be on the roster opening night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at HSBC Arena.
With a deadline of 5PM to get down to 23 players, the Sabres still have a few decisions to make – what to do with 19-year-old defenseman Nikita Zadorov? – but they’ve made it clear they’re going to give Reinhart at least a little while to make his impression felt; nine games to be specific. The team gets a nine-game window to evaluate Reinhart before his entry-level contract kicks in, so expect a scrutinous eye to be cast upon the young pivot.
Whether or not the team will use the entire nine-game slate is something we’ll have to wait and see about.
“We can’t predict that far ahead,” Sabres head coach Ted Nolan said. “They’re definitely here for the next nine minutes.”
The Sabres also want to be careful in their handling of the prized prospect. They certainly don’t want a repeat of the way center Mikhail Grigorenko was handled. The 20-year-old Russian struggled right out of the gate for the Sabres, but was kept around long enough to burn a year of his entry-level contract. He then had issues being sent back to his junior club, instead having to sit in the press box as a healthy scratch for the Sabres. He’s since righted his path a bit, looking much better during a short stint with Rochester of the AHL. Still, the team no doubt wishes they would have just sent Grigorenko back to junior when they initially had the opportunity instead of starting that entry-level deal.
For Reinhart, the team isn’t likely to make that same mistake. So unless Reinhart blows the doors off, don’t expect him to be long for Buffalo.
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When not inanely bantering about the Sabres, Ryan Womeldorf can be found here and at TwoPadStack.net talking all things hockey. He's usually got a lot to say, but sadly most of it is wrong. If you have any questions, feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org