Panthers’ Sam Reinhart Excelling in First Season with Team

During the 2021 draft this past offseason, the Florida Panthers and general manager Bill Zito made a trade for former Buffalo Sabres forward and restricted free agent (RFA) Sam Reinhart. In exchange, they gave up their first-round pick in next year’s draft, and goaltending prospect Devon Levi. Later that offseason, he was signed to a three-year, $6.5 million a year deal, making him the second highest paid forward on the team. For Reinhart, this is the first time he’s played with a hockey franchise not named the Buffalo Sabres in his NHL career as he’s played 454 career games with them, scoring 134 goals and assisting on 161 more for a total of 295 points. Although, he’s made the most of his time here in South Florida.

Reinhart’s 2021-22 Campaign: So Far, So Good

On the 2021-22 season currently, Samson has 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) through 24 games. Furthermore, he is tied for third on the team in power play goals with four this season. In his last five games, he’s put up seven points (four goals, three assists).

Related: Panthers November Recap: Near Perfect at Home, Winless on Road

Against his former team in Buffalo, he piled up four points (one goal and three assists). Additionally, he scored the game-winning goal in a shootout against the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 4. Until Dec. 7 against the Blues, he had a three game goal streak. This is great considering that he had a rough month of Nov. as he only tallied six points (three goals, three assists) through 13 Nov. appearances.

Sam Reinhart Florida Panthers
Since being acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Sabres, Sam Reinhart has made the best of his time with the Florida Panthers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Reinhart has been setup on a good line earlier this season featuring Anton Lundell and Frank Vatrano, but was bounced around due to injuries in the lineup. With his recent hot streak, he may have found his chemistry with the line featuring him, Lundell and Russian forward Maxim Mamin.

Reinhart’s Teammates and Coach Have Faith in Him

His recent point streak has captured the trust of his teammates and his coaches. Panthers interim head coach Andrew Brunette had nothing but praise for him after his excellent game against the Blues on Dec. 4.

“He’s been really good for us wherever we’ve played him. We’re trying to find spots for him and get used to him, and he’s trying to get used to us. It’s always hard for a new player coming in. He has some real good chemistry with his line right now and they’re playing at a high level. Feeling really good about his game right now.”

Coach Andrew Brunette on Sam Reinhart after playing the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 4.

Like “Bruno” said, it’s hard for a player from another franchise to come in and try to fit into the lineup. Although, Reinhart has fit in perfectly with his new friends in Sunrise, Florida. Speaking of friends, his teammate, who is also from Buffalo, defenseman Brandon Montour put in a good word to the press.

“It was great, he’s a great guy off the ice. We’re friends and obviously, on the ice, you could see his talent. So both sides, off-ice and on-ice, it’s great to have him on our side.”

Brandon Montour on having Sam Reinhart as a teammate in Florida

What’s Next For Reinhart

Of course, Reinhart has shown he can hit huge strides and make big plays for anyone he’s with. However, he needs to be consistent with his playmaking abilities, as there have been stretches of games were he is held completely off the score sheet. However, his performances have propelled the Cats to the top of the league in spite of their recent adversity and injury bug.

Related: Panthers Check-in: Strong All-Around Start Has Florida in Driver’s Seat

The Panthers have an elite talent in “Rino”, who can be adaptable as both a winger and center on any line. If he is utilized correctly, Florida will have playoff hockey on the beaches of Broward County this upcoming postseason.

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