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Mike Harrington: Sabres got the right fit on Reinhart numbers

It can't be what Sam Reinhart's camp wanted.

It has to be almost exactly what Jason Botterill wanted.

There's your scorecard from what transpired Wednesday as the Buffalo Sabres got their lone unsigned player to jot his name above the dotted line.

The numbers on Reinhart's deal are simple. Two years, $7.3 million overall. A salary of $3.55 million this year and $3.75 next year. A thoroughly manageable cap hit of $3.65 million.

It's an absolute show-me contract to Reinhart, a message that the Sabres were duly impressed by his 20 goals over the final 44 games last season but want to see it over a full 82 games.

More good work by Botterill, who got high marks for the Jeff Skinner trade with Carolina and is looking better and better on the Ryan O'Reilly deal with the performances in camp thus far of Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka and Tage Thompson.

It's expected that Reinhart and Botterill will address reporters Thursday when the Sabres return to practice in HarborCenter (the team was off on Wednesday).

It will be interesting to gauge Reinhart's mood in front of the microphones and equally interesting to watch his play during the exhibition schedule. He was skating with his teammates earlier this month, but how far behind did he fall missing those rugged three days of practice last weekend?

Restricted free agents don't have much leverage and it seemed foolish on the part of Reinhart and his representatives to keep him out of the start of camp at age 22. Did they really think the Sabres were going to do anything but a bridge deal at this point in his career?

Reinhart has not remotely shown he is worthy of a long-term, big-money deal. He's got two more years to do it and playing on Jack Eichel's wing can certainly help. Let's see if Reinhart can replicate the last three months of last season — when he finished tied for 12th in the NHL in goals.

Sabres re-sign Reinhart to two-year deal

The Sabres, meanwhile, did the prudent thing on this one. The usual chatter by this time is that most RFAs still hanging around unsigned have ridiculous asks out to their clubs. That's the scuttleubtt in the case of Toronto's William Nylander and Anaheim's Nick Ritchie.

That was the not the case with Reinhart, as the word had been the Sabres and agent Craig Oster had continuing dialogue going. Botterill simply wasn't going to — and couldn't — go big with Reinhart. At least not yet.

He hasn't even played an official game in Buffalo yet but the Sabres have to already be pondering what to do about Skinner, who will undoubtedly be looking for a long-term deal sometime next year. It would make sense for the suburban Toronto native to want that deal here, but where does he fit in to the team's salary scale?

Any GM is always working through the prism of today with an eye on tomorrow. Botterill's work in future years is really going to be a case study in cap management, and how often did we hear the term "cap savant" thrown around when he was hired from Pittsburgh 16 months ago? Botterill will have a chance to prove it the next couple of years.

Eichel is now a $10 million a year player. Botterill is looking at possibly paying Casey Mittelstadt a good chunk of change next summer and who knows how much it might cost to extend Rasmus Dahlin with a deal that could be signed as early as the summer of 2020?

The Sabres have less than $3 million in cap space for this season but that number is about to change.

Jason Pominville ($5.6 million) and Matt Moulson ($3.975 million) come off the books after it's over. Nathan Beaulieu ($2.4 million) will be an RFA but would need a big season to get another deal with the ascent of Brendan Guhle and Lawrence Pilut. Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson combine for about $3.1 million on the cap this year as pending RFAs but will the team keep them if their production is minimal?

Botterill had to keep Reinhart's number down for now, and rumors of a $5 million hit weren't going to be to the Sabres' liking. The GM kept the numbers just a shade over summer RFA signings of forwards like Detroit's Anthony Mantha (two years, $6.6 million) and Andreas Athanasiou (two years, $6 million) and Montreal's Max Domi (two years, $6.3 million).

Seems fair. Reinhart has had two 20-goal seasons in the NHL thus far and Mantha has had one. Domi and Athanasiou have yet to crack that mark.

It's a club-friendly deal. But there's still something in it for Reinhart: motivation to keep his career on an upward climb so the next time he gets to the negotiating table, Botterill will be waiting with more term — and a lot more money.

Beaulieu is ready for every opportunity Sabres present to him

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