By Brandon J. Koch
Ever since he was drafted 2nd overall in the 2014 NHL Draft, Sam Reinhart has been catching heat from fans and the media. The 21-year old is entering his 3rd season with the blue and gold.
After a promising rookie season in 2015-16, Reinhart didn’t take that next step last year. In 79 games, Reinhart had 17 goals and 30 assists for 47 points. In his rookie year, Reinhart would stay on ice after practice with Ryan O’Reilly and others. That work paid off: Reinhart had 23 goals and 19 assists for 42 points.
After last season ended, I remember reading an article by WGR’S Paul Hamilton. He talked about how Sam went to little of those extra workouts and his attitude changed. He acted arrogant in his interviews with the media. I remember watching his postgame interviews on MSG, his demeanor wasn’t the same.
I say let’s pump the brakes on Sam Reinhart. He was a prime candidate this Summer by fans and media to be in speculation trade talks.
He wasn’t the biggest Dan Bylsma fan (who was.) And wasn’t all in on his head coach. I know he’s a professional and that’s not an excuse, but Bylsma didn’t put him in the best situations.
2017-18 will be the final year of his contract and he needs to step up and I think he will. He’s the best passer on the team and knows exactly where the play is going to happen before it happens. He needs to continue to work on his defense and put in a more scoring touch. His skating is fine, that’s old news to harp on, it’s not a problem.
The new coaching staff will put him in better situations. I expect his Corsi, offensive and defensive zone starts to be better this season. It is my opinion that he should be on a line with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane, instead of 3rd line minutes. He will thrive with those two players. You can even put him with Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo, he played well with them last season.
It’s way to premature to call him a bust, this could be a make or break year.