By Amy Moritz
Tim Murray sat at the table with Sam Reinhart, facing the Buffalo media gathered for the press conference.
"I'd officially like to welcome Sam to Buffalo," the Sabres general manager said.
"These are the faces you’re going to see on a nightly basis," Murray said to Reinhart, alluding to the local media. "And the people you’re going have to answer to when you don’t play as well as I told them you were going to play."
Reinhart smiled, but it didn't seem to faze him. The 18-year-old was the second overall pick at the NHL draft on Friday and the prospect the Sabres hope will anchor their rebuild.
Being a top draft pick comes with built-in expectations. But Reinhart has been dealing with expectations his entire life. His father, Paul, was an 11-year NHL veteran while his two brothers were NHL draft picks (Max, in 2010 third round to Calgary, and Griffin, the fourth-overall pick by the Islanders in 2012). And while you only get drafted once yourself, in many ways this doesn't feel like Sam Reinhart's first rodeo.
"I’m fortunate enough for me that I’ve had two brothers go through this experience so I’ve been able to watch them try and make a National Hockey League team," Reinhart said. "To be able to see them go through it the last couple of years and surround myself with them, I think it’s made me familiar with the process and I’m comfortable with it."
His production in the Western Hockey League showcased his skills. In 60 games last season he scored 36 goals with 69 assists for 105 points.
But it's not just the numbers he is able to put up. It's that elusive hockey sense coupled with maturity that has impressed Murray and the Sabres.
"He’s very mature, I think and again, it’s how you’re brought up," Murray said. "It’s the way you treat your elders. It’s the way you treat your peers. We’ve seen it on the ice. ... the way he plays the game, the way he respects the game. He plays between the whistles. He doesn’t get rattled. His focus is on when they drop the puck. … He’s very mature in that respect.
"All kids and teenagers mature at different times and different speeds. Again, that’s a big part of who he is on the ice. I hope he’s great on the ice and I hope he’s better than that off the ice and I know we’ll have a long-time franchise guy."
Reinhart was in Buffalo for a post-draft whirlwind media tour, hitting radio stations along with the press conference and some other meet-and-greet events.
Could he be the next face of the franchise?
"That’s not my focus right now," Reinhart said. "I'm going to come in as a young guy and do everything I can to make the team for starters as any young guy has to do. I’m going to take everything I can, learn from the older guys, get some experience and start to make an impact. That’s just my focus right now."
Reinhart said he will be returning to Vancouver to resume his off-season workouts with his brothers while preparing for Sabres prospect camp in July.