In a Draft such as this, there is virtually no difference between the first and second overall pick. That’s why the Buffalo Sabres – in the long run – could very well have the best of the bunch. Center Sam Reinhart comes from splendid hockey stock, and it showed when scouts evaluated the native of North Vancouver, British Columbia.
“I have been prepared for it for a long time,” explained Sam about his lofty position. “I have certainly visualized myself in this uniform and I’m just thrilled and ecstatic to make an impact there and go to Buffalo for the first time.”
As for Reinhart’s talent, a scout puts it this way: “He’s so smart that it makes up for his weaknesses. He takes away space and uses his angles. He’s a good enough skater, deadly on the power play and his linemates get five or six chances a game because of him.”
Really, it’s a matter of when he cracks the Sabres’ roster, not whether he will make The Show. Some long-time observers believe that Sam’s sense and smarts are reminiscent of his father Paul, a splendid NHL performer.
Buffalo general manager Tim Murray didn’t stop there. One of the most highly regarded evaluators of young players in the industry, Murray’s choices were invariably on target.
The second day saw him add even more talent with eight more prospects. The most notable names include forwards Brendan Lemieux and Eric Cornel, defenseman Brycen Martin and goaltender Jonas Johansson.
Buffalo’s GM, remembering defeats from multiple Cup-winner Claude Lemieux, selected his son Brendan , a left winger who played for the Barrie Colts. Lemieux the younger was considered a potential first-rounder, but he was more than happy to be the first player taken on the second day of the Draft.
“Things have a way of working out. I think it could be a blessing in disguise that I had to wait it out,” he said. “I am proud to be picked with the first pick in the second round. I am just going to use it as fuel now.”
Augmenting high-end forward talent is the No. 1 priority, and the team got an emphatic start on that front by drafting both Cornel and Karabacek in the second round, in addition to Lemieux.