BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — Sam Reinhart doesn't look at this season as a make-or-break year for him.
"I think I've done a lot I want to be recognized for and be here long-term for sure, there's no question about it," Reinhart said. "Do I think I've proven everything? No absolutely not. I don't think anyone can say that with the lack of success we've had as a team."
Reinhart and the Sabres recently avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.2 million deal.
Since the 2015-16 season, Reinhart has 109 goals and 145 assists. He's coming off a 22 goal and 28 assist performance in 2019-20 before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. His time on the ice increased last season from the year prior and Reinhart credits that for part of his success.
"I think I felt fresher that much more each game with those added minutes," he said. "I was able to stay fresh on a consistent level. I was really happy with that."
The Sabres will have plenty of new faces next season with the addition of guys like Taylor Hall and Eric Staal. Reinhart says it's great to see new and talented guys come in, and mentions the team's head coach, Ralph Krueger, as a big factor this off-season.
"The level of honesty and the communication he has, it's something any player wants to play under," Reinhart said. "I think it's a big reason as to why you're seeing players want to come here right now. It's awesome to play under him."
As to when the Sabres will get on the ice remains unseen. Ahead of the NHL Draft Commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned January 1st as the current target date for the start of the season, but no further details regarding the season or training camp have been announced.
"From a training standpoint, I think it gets tougher from here on out with the uncertainty," Reinhart said. "It's more of a guessing game. You have to convince yourself to take some time to keep everything fresh because it's a long off-season."
Teams are currently in limbo as they continue to wait for the season to begin and for players like Reinhart, it's an odd and bizarre time as they try and stay in shape and prepare for what's to eventually come.
"It's a little bit of a mental grind to stay in it. Luckily I enjoy the working out process, the training process, but that's usually a couple month-gig, not a full year of doing that," Reinhart said. "I think everyone's looking forward to the conversations in the next few weeks of trying to get this back on track and trying to get back in our cities and back on the ice with our teammates again. Hopefully it's sooner rather than later."
The Sabres will look to finally make the postseason after nearly a decade of playoff-less hockey. It's hard for any player to ignore the outside chatter and frustration surrounding the organization, but Reinhart says all you can do is use those experiences - whether they be positive or negative.
"As you get older, you try and use those to your advantage," he said. "With that being said, there's a lot of new faces, we know every year is different, we've been in different positions in certain parts of the year, and it's a matter of putting that together."