With Reinhart getting shot at center, Sabres' depth chart opens up - The Buffalo News

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With Reinhart getting shot at center, Sabres' depth chart opens up

The Sabres used the No. 2 overall draft pick on center Sam Reinhart in 2014. For much of the last two seasons, Reinhart was a right winger, not a center.

Just a few minutes into Phil Housley's chat to open training camp, it was wondered where Reinhart will play.

"Do I really have to reveal that right out of the gate?" Housley said with a laugh.

Thankfully, the coach did reveal it.

"We are going to play guys that played wing and put them at center, and guys that played center put them at wing," Housley said Thursday in KeyBank Center. "We want to try different combinations, try to find the right mix.

"Yeah, I would say Sam is probably going to play some center."

Whether Reinhart stays in the middle could be a different story – the position swap has been a short-lived experiment in the past – but it does make sense.

Right wing is the Sabres' position of strength. In addition to Reinhart, they have Kyle Okposo, Jason Pominville and the young triumvirate of Hudson Fasching, Justin Bailey and Nick Baptiste.

The center spot features Jack Eichel and Ryan O'Reilly up top, followed by Johan Larsson, Evan Rodrigues and Jacob Josefson.

The left wing is occupied by Evander Kane, Benoit Pouliot, Matt Moulson, Zemgus Girgensons, Alex Nylander, Nicolas Deslauriers, C.J. Smith and Seth Griffith.

Moving Reinhart to center allows two of the Sabres' top prospects (Fasching, Bailey or Baptiste) to earn a spot on right wing. It also gives the Sabres impressive depth down the middle.

"The center position is so important, especially in our system," Housley said. "It's going to be important to have four guys that can play and be trustworthy. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out."

The Sabres' first on-ice sessions Friday will give a glimpse into Housley's plan. Some possible line combinations:

Kane-Eichel-Okposo
Pouliot-O'Reilly-Bailey
Girgensons-Reinhart-Pominville
Moulson-Larsson-Fasching

Kane-Eichel-Bailey
Nylander-O'Reilly-Okposo
Pouliot-Reinhart-Pominville
Girgensons-Larsson-Fasching

If Reinhart stays at right wing:

Kane-Eichel-Reinhart
Pouliot-O'Reilly-Okposo
Girgensons-Larsson-Pominville
Moulson-Josefson-Fasching

The only players who are definitely among the top nine are Eichel, O'Reilly, Okposo, Kane, Pominville and Reinhart. That leaves three spots up for grabs with plenty of candidates available.

It'll be an interesting camp to watch.

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