There has been a lot of discussion 'round these here parts about what to do with Reinhart this season - stash him in juniors for another year, or, if he proves capable, allow him to remain in Buffalo and burn an entry level year on his contract. Last season, Tim Murray indicated that whoever he drafted was going to be back in juniors. However, at the introductory interview after drafting Reinhart he seemed to leave the door open for Samson to remain up. Rather than argue about what the Sabres should do - which we will do plenty of over the next few months - I'm more interested in looking at historical precedent to try to see what they might do. So I looked at #2 overall draft picks over the last several seasons and what their team did with them, taking into account position and team situation.
2013-14: Alexander Barkov, C, Panthers - 30th place previous season, drafted from Finnish Liiga
Barkov stayed with the Panthers and did well, hitting 24 points in 54 games before getting injured at the Olympics (oh, and he made Finland's Olympic squad as an 18-year old). However, his situation is a little different from Samson's - he already had 2 pro seasons in Finland under his belt, and he was physically ready for the NHL.
We'll never know - Murray suffered a season-ending injury before the lockout lifted. He played well for the BJ's last year, never seeing the AHL.
Is 52 points and winning the Calder good? Needless to say he stayed up and did very well. The Avalanche improved by 20 points but still missed the playoffs.
He stayed with the eventual champs, though he didn't exactly light it up - 22 points in 74 games. Looking back it's almost surprising that they didn't send him down, it's not like they needed him.
Another player who immediately played in the NHL, though like Barkov he already had a couple pro European seasons under his belt. No I'm not going to talk about how this is the season Myers won the Calder and now everyone would take Hedman over him. Shut up.
Stayed up with the team despite them still being terrible.
2007-2008: James Van Riemsdyk, F, Flyers - 30th place, drafted from NCAA
He was drafted out of college so it's a little different. He returned to New Hampshire that season.
Not only stayed up but had one of his best years, getting 42 points including a career high 29 goals in 81 games. The Penguins improved drastically of course, but that may have had more to do with some of his teammates.
2005-2006: Bobby "intensity" Ryan, F, Ducks - 22nd place, drafted from OHL
He was sent back down to the OHL. In fact, he was sent back down the following season as well. If only he was a better speller.
2004-2005: Evgeni Malkin, C, Penguins - 30th place, drafted from KHL
That was the lockout season, but come on. Different situation anyways since he wasn't drafted from juniors.
Stayed up with the Canes and had 31 in 81. They were still bad.
2002-2003: Kari Lehtonen, G, some team called the Thrashers? Sounds made up - 30th place, drafted from Finnish Liiga
He played one more season in Finland before coming over to play mostly in the AHL for a couple years. Goalies develop on such a different schedule that this isn't a good comparison anyways.
2001-2002: Jason Spezza, C, Ottawa - 4th place, drafted from OHL
He was sent back down to the OHL that season.
2000-2001: Dany Heatley, F, Thrashers - 28th place, which was last, drafted from NCAA
Another college kid, so it's tough to compare. He went back to Wisconsin that season.
So if recent history is any indication, I could easily see Reinhart staying in the NHL this season. Of the 6 forwards drafted #2 overall out of juniors since 2000, 4 were not sent back down their rookie season. It's hard to tell what effect, if any, the situation of the team had on their decisions - the Pens and Bruins were good, but the Avs and Canes were not. Of course, they weren't tanking quite as hard as we presumably are either. It will be interesting, and there will be plenty of debate right up until the decision has to be made, but no matter what your opinion is it would probably make sense to prepare yourself for either scenario.