The NHL draft was one thing. So was going No. 2 overall. And then there was a freshly signed pro contract.
But this is what Sam Reinhart has been most excited about – stepping out on NHL ice for an NHL team in an NHL jersey.
Reinhart along with 40 other players begins Buffalo Sabres development camp Monday.
Before that, though, Reinhart took care of the business side of the start of his career. He agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract Saturday that pays the maximum $925,000 per season.
“We are very excited to have Sam under contract,” said Sabres General Manager Tim Murray. “We look forward to watching him develop and become an important part of our organization in the future.”
In addition, the Sabres agreed to a one-year deal with forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas. He has a two-way contract that will pay $640,000 if he’s in the NHL.
The Sabres acquired the rights to Samuels-Thomas on Wednesday in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets. The team gave up a conditional seventh-round pick in order to acquire the 24-year-old Quinnipiac University product.
Both players will be on the ice Monday. The four-day camp at First Niagara Center gives prospects and young players a chance to learn the basics of the Sabres’ system and includes both on-ice and off-ice work.
For Reinhart, post-draft life has been about getting back to work in the gym, where the goal of most young players is to add muscle weight and strength.
“It’s a hard year for guys to get in the gym and get in off-ice workouts and get in a routine,” Reinhart said on Friday after throwing out the first pitch for a Buffalo Bisons’ game.
“I think I’ve handled it pretty well. The last week or so I’ve really been able to prepare and with all the draft stuff over I’ve been able to start to focus and be motivated for when training camp starts in September.”
The focus and motivation also comes with a sense of relaxation. There is anticipation for development camp, but for Reinhart it’s more of a chance to finally get back down to work.
“It only motivates you knowing where you’re going,” Reinhart said. “I’ve been familiar with this and have envisioned myself with this opportunity here with this organization. It’s a bit relaxing as well as motivating and knowing how much work really has to be done. I’ve been looking forward to this part of it for quite some time.”
While this will be Reinhart’s first development camp, he’s familiar with the process. Both his older brothers Max (Calgary) and Griffin (New York Islanders) had been drafted and would-be NHLers.
“I’ve surrounded myself with pros over the last few years to get ready for this,” Reinhart said. “It’s easier having two brothers who are trying to do the same thing that I am. They’ve been trying to break into the league full time for a couple years now. That’s making it easier for me and making me more comfortable with the whole situation and the process.”
The process includes getting his feet wet in Buffalo. He did a whirlwind media tour a few days after the NHL draft and was back in town Friday.
He went to the mound with his name on the back of a No. 23 jersey. That’s the number he wears in major juniors and the number his father, Paul Reinhart, wore during his 11-year NHL career.
When asked if he told the Sabres he would be wearing that number, he laughed. “I wouldn’t say I told them. I asked them,” Reinhart said. “I said I’d love to have it. I didn’t demand it by any means.” No. 23 was worn by the departed Ville Leino last season.
Development camp on-ice workouts are open to the public with updates available on Sabres.com.
The tentative schedule includes practice from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Monday. Tuesday features pre-scrimmage skates from 10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. followed by an intrasquad scrimmage at 7 p.m. Wednesday is an off day followed by practices on Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to noon and 1:30 to 3 p.m. The camp ends on Friday with a three-on-three tournament from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Taylor Nigrelli contributed to this report. email firstname.lastname@example.org