Sabres players continued their pre-training camp skating and scrimmaging Tuesday in HarborCenter, with the most surprising appearance being that of unsigned forward Sam Reinhart.
Reinhart, one of the NHL's top remaining restricted free agents, was upbeat when talking to reporters afterward. He said he's being briefed regularly on contract talks between agent Craig Oster and Sabres General Manager Jason Botterill.
"That stuff is all between my agents, myself and Jason and that's the way we've wanted to keep it," said Reinhart, 22. "That's the way it's going to keep going. My focus around here is to be ready for the season and I'm excited to be back with the guys. That's where my focus is."
Reinhart said he's preparing for a normal regular season but that he particularly wanted to come to Buffalo to meet his new teammates. He skated with No. 1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin for the first time on Tuesday, and new Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton and veteran forward Patrik Berglund both hit the ice for the first time as well.
"You can't really just pick that up," Reinhart said. "You've really got to value that time together and get a feel with the guys. That's why I am here and skating. It's a fresh mentality, a lot of excitement involved and we're moving forward."
Reinhart and Toronto's William Nylander rate as the top unsigned forwards in the NHL. Reinhart is undoubtedly seeking a long-term deal with the Sabres after a 25-goal, 50-point season that saw him collect 20 goals after Jan. 1. He said he's taken note of several contracts signed by other players around the league.
"You kind of have to pay attention to it, no? It's always going to be there and you're going to see it," he said. "My preparation doesn't change regardless."
Asked directly if he was interested in a long-term deal in Buffalo, Reinhart said, "Yeah. For sure. Now, my focus is getting ready for the season right now. That's all going to be determined privately and it will be announced whenever it's announced. My focus is to be on the ice with the guys and get ready like I would if I was signed."
Reinhart's 2017-18 season started in brutal fashion with just five goals in the first 38 games and ended with him posting career highs in goals and points. His 20 goals from Jan. 1 to the end of the season were tied for 12th in the NHL
"The player I am is I have to contribute, I have to put up numbers," Reinhart said. "A lot of the chances I was creating late we were capitalizing on them. That's a big part of the focus and a big part of what I need to start with this year."