When the Buffalo Sabres selected forward Sam Reinhart with their second overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft the team knew they were getting a very talented hockey player.
A native of North Vancouver, B.C., Reinhart put up big numbers with the Kootenay Ice and he rightfully earned a reputation as a player with high hockey intelligence. In 250 games with Kootenay, Reinhart scored 120 goals and 319 points. He won a WHL Championship with the Ice in 2010-11. In addition, he served as assistant captain of Kootenay in 2012-13 and later as captain from 2013-14 through 2014-15.
Reinhart had a great 2015-16 campaign for the Sabres. Reinhart scored 23 goals and 42 points in 79 games last season. In addition, Reinhart added to his resume along with Ryan O’Reilly, playing at the IIHF World Championship. The duo helped Team Canada win their second consecutive gold medal at the tournament. Reinhart finished with four assists in 10 games.
The 20-year-old is poised for another big season with Buffalo. Reinhart will be playing on a roster with some additional offensive firepower on the wing in 2016-17 with the arrival of Kyle Okposo. As Reinhart prepares to build upon the success of last season, the following is a look at five of his most impressive tallies from the 2015-16 season.
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#5 – Sam Reinhart’s First NHL Goal
Reinhart scored his first goal of the season during an early October match against the Tampa Bay Lightning. To set up the goal, Sabres’ forward Tyler Ennis steals the puck from Bolts’ forward Valtteri Filppula. Ennis fires a shot wide of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. Ennis’ uses his speed to gain possession of the loose puck and sends a no-look pass to the front of the net. Reinhart’s positioning is perfect in the right place at the right time to slip the puck past Bishop. This was Reinhart’s first NHL goal that gave Buffalo an early lead but they ultimately lost this contest by a 2-1 score.
#4 – Reinhart Drives One Home Against the Jets
This goal is a good example of Reinhart’s high hockey intelligence. His positioning on this play and anticipation of where the puck will go makes all the difference. Sabres’ forward Zemgus Girgensons starts the play by pouncing on a loose puck. Girgensons fires the puck at Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender Michael Hutchinson and the puck ricochets off the crossbar. While Girgensons makes the early play on the puck, Reinhart began moving toward the front of the net. Reinhart was well positioned in front of the net to field the rebound and light the lamp.
#3 – Backhand Ties Game Against Boston
Former Sabres’ forward Jamie McGinn along with O’Reilly and Reinhart moved the puck well to set up this goal. O’Reilly wins a puck battle along the boards and feeds the puck to McGinn for a one-time shot on Boston Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask. While this part of the play was unfolding, Reinhart was making his way around the back of the net. Rask made the initial save but directed the rebound to his left where Reinhart was positioned. Using a backhand shot, the forward put the loose puck past Rask to tie the game.
#2 – Eichel Sets up Reinhart
Sabres fans not only saw an amazing goal unfold on this play but they also caught a glimpse of the future. Jack Eichel and his club get a fast breakout of their own zone. Eichel carries the puck into the New York Rangers’ zone moving across the blue line. He holds onto the puck drawing the attention of three Rangers. Eichel finds Reinhart speeding to the net and feeds him the puck. Reinhart receives the pass and tips it past goaltender Antti Raanta. Sabreland had visions of the future after witnessing this goal stemming from a great effort by two of the club’s budding young stars.
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#1 – Reinhart Nets First Career Hat Trick
Number one on the count-down is actually a three-goal performance by Reinhart for his first career hat trick. This event occurred during a January 2016 road game in Winnipeg. Johan Larsson moved the puck into the Jets’ zone and found a wide-open Reinhart who fired home the first goal of the game. Later in the first period, Rasmus Ristolainen kept the puck in the zone and sent a cross-ice pass to Reinhart. Reinhart shot the puck which deflected off of a Winnipeg player and into the net for his second tally of the game. Finally, with Jets’ goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on the bench, Buffalo created a turnover and Reinhart secured the hat trick with an empty-net goal.
Tim joined The Hockey Writers in July 2013. He began his tenure with THW by covering the Minnesota Wild and he now writes on the Buffalo Sabres. Tim completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University at Buffalo. In addition, he is a published historian and a Baltimore Orioles Contributing Writer for LegendsOnDeck.com. Tim’s work for THW has been featured on sites such as Yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @TOHockeyTHW