Sam Reinhart's time in Buffalo is up.
The Sabres announced this morning they are sending the second overall draft pick back to Kootenay of the Western Hockey League. The 18-year-old had no goals and one assist during his nine-game tryout with the Sabres.
"It’s an emotional day," General Manager Tim Murray said in First Niagara Center. "I told him you’re my first first-round draft pick as a GM, and obviously I was cheering for him, but I can’t let emotion come into play on the decision.
"It has to be the decision that’s right for No. 1, the organization and No. 2, him. It can’t be the right decision for me. I can’t keep him here and say, ‘Hey, hey, look what we did here. Our first-round pick played 82 games in his first year eligible.’ That’s craziness to me. It’s about doing what’s right for him and what’s right for the organization."
Reinhart took the decision hard.
"With me he was good," Murray said. "I guess when he left me he was emotional, disappointed. He should be disappointed. I told him that, ‘Be disappointed. You’re allowed to be disappointed.'"
Reinhart's entry-level contract won't kick in until next year (or the year after that if Buffalo decides the center still isn't ready for 2015-16).
"I’ve never seen too many players ruined by sending them back versus keeping them too soon," coach Ted Nolan said before the decision was announced.
Reinhart's hockey IQ and skill set were universally praised by coaches and teammates, but the 6-foot-1, 185-pounder had trouble keeping up physically.
"He’s just not heavy enough," Murray said. "He’s not strong enough yet. As it went on here, his skating, it looked like he came up to the pace of the game so to me that’s not an issue. Just by getting stronger he’s going to get quicker and faster, but strength was an issue for me."
Reinhart started on a scoring line but spent his final few games on the fourth line.
"He’s a great kid," Sabres right wing Drew Stafford said. "He wants to learn a lot. You can tell the skill’s there. It’s been awesome having him around.
"The situation that he’s in right now with what’s been going on with the team, it can’t get any more harder than that. The amount of adversity he’s dealing with right now with all the losing, that’s tough on a young guy. For him to get those kind of lessons early on is good because later on in his career he’ll be able to pull that out his resources and realize, ‘What did I do that worked? What did I do that didn’t work?’ That can help him going forward."