While the Stanley Cup Playoffs are down to the final four teams, news and rumors are swirling around the teams sitting idly at home. Many big names and potential suitors have been thrown around, but one that seems to make a lot of sense for the Vancouver Canucks to be all in on is acquiring forward Sam Reinhart from the Buffalo Sabres.
Reinhart, this past season put up excellent numbers despite a tumultuous season by Buffalo, tying a career-high in goals with 25 (despite playing in 28 fewer games) and adding 15 assists along the way. He has hit the 20 goal mark in five of his six full seasons and has yet to record fewer than 40 points in a full campaign. His fit in Vancouver would not only check off a number of boxes, but he would be a perfect fit for the club for the foreseeable future.
Immediate Help for Secondary Scoring
One of the biggest issues with the Canucks this past season was their lack of secondary scoring. Adding Reinhart into the lineup immediately bolsters that and gives Vancouver two legitimate scoring lines that will be able to play off of one another on a game-by-game basis.
The Canucks secondary scoring last year struggled mightily, especially after injures to Jay Beagle (26 games), Antoine Roussel (21 games) and Elias Pettersson (30 games). Outside of their trio up front with Brock Boeser (49 points), J.T. Miller (46 points) and Bo Horvat (39 points), the forward group had a tough time helping out. Nils Hoglander (rookie) was 4th among forwards with 27 points, Pettersson was fifth despite being hurt for over half the year, and Tanner Pearson was the next highest scoring forward with just 18 points in 52 games.
With 40 points minimum (with a career-high 65 in 2018-19), the addition of Reinhart would not only bolster the top-six for Vancouver, but it would also give them a legitimate secondary scoring option they so dearly missed last year, especially with the vacancy of Tyler Toffoli from a year earlier.
He’s Grown Every Year He’s Been in the League
It often takes a player a year or two to adjust to the league and come into his own. For Reinhart, it didn’t take him very long at all. Since entering the league in the 2014-15 season, he’s done nothing but grow into a dependable, consistent presence on the ice.
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Outside of his plus/minus at minus-28, this was a year of growth for Reinhart, especially when you factor in not having his number one center in Jack Eichel. Playing alongside either Casey Middlestat or rookie Dylan Cozens, Reinhart had the highest shooting percentage of his career (19.2%), cut down his penalty minutes (PIMS) in half from a year prior (20 to 10) and was also on pace to put up a career-high in power-play goals (16) over a full 82 game season, with 12 in 54 games. With all of that put into perspective, he’s also still just 25 years of age with the potential to get even better, especially in a different environment.
What Would Be the Cost to Acquire Him
This is always the question when a player is linked to a team or a trade: what would be the cost in acquiring him? He’s an RFA (restricted free agent), coming off a season where he was on pace to hit not just the 30 goal plateau but even flirt with 40 over a full 82 game pace.
There have been rumors around Vancouver being open to part with the ninth overall pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, while others, including Farhan Lalji suggesting Vancouver, will want to use that selection and look towards the future. If the Canucks would prefer to hang on to their first-round pick, then the possibility of trading a second or third-round pick plus a player, whether it’s a guy like Tyler Graovac or Cole Lind, are other options. Though it seems Vancouver would rather not dip into their prospect pool, if the Canucks want to add an impact top-six forward, that might be the cost.
The value has never been higher on a player who has seemingly gone under the radar for most of his career, but if Jim Benning wants to make a big splash this offseason, this might just be the guy to pull the trigger on.
I’m a London, Ontario based broadcaster and sports writer for the Vancouver Canucks. I’ve done work in the past reporting on the NHL, NBA and MLB. I’ve also covered the OHL including the Owen Sound Attack and am currently involved with the London Knights.