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Time to Move Reinhart Back to the Wing?

Is it time to end the experiment and move Reinhart back to the wing?

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

I’m seemed like a good idea at first. Heck, it was even an idea that I’ve lobbied for in the past. New head coach Phil Housley has played Sam Reinhart at center since the beginning of training camp. The position that the North Vancouver native was drafted to play back in 2014 at second overall.

The move would have given the organization some good depth in the NHL with Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and Reinhart down the middle of the lineup. However, the results were not great in the preseason. The 21-year-old seemed uncomfortable and a step behind the play throughout camp.

It may be a good time for Housley to abandon the plan before it even gets to a regular season game. The Sabres are counting on a more productive season from Reinhart than we saw last year in which he recorded 47 points. He’s played on the wing throughout his NHL career and primarily with Eichel. The duo seems to have a chemistry and feed off each other. If Reinhart gets off to a slow start struggling at center, it could not only put his season behind the eight ball, but club’s season as well.

Putting him back in a top-six role on Eichel’s wing could solidify the top six and give the team a deeper lineup. It would allow Johan Larsson to slide back into his natural position of center on the third line instead of a fourth line winger. We’ve seen Larsson succeed playing that role in the past. It also puts Pominville in a third line winger role that again seems to suit him better at this point in his career.

Here’s the lineup I would project with Reinhart back on the wing:

Kane - Eichel - Reinhart

Pouliot - O’Reilly - Okposo

Girgensons - Larsson - Pominville

Nolan - Josefson - Griffith/Moulson

It’s rare you’ll see a coach throw an idea in the trash prior to seeing it in regular season action, but in this instance that could be the best approach. The bottom six doesn’t look as solid as it did when you projected one of Alex Nylander, Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste or Hudson Fasching making the team a few weeks ago. It only increases the importance of putting Reinhart in a position to succeed and help provide production at the top of the lineup.

Also, at the end of the day if Reinhart turns out to be a winger for the remainder of his career is that a bad thing for the Sabres? The organization is deep at center with Eichel, O’Reilly and Larsson in the NHL. While Casey Mittelstadt, Sean Malone, Cliff Pu and Rasmus Asplund develop as young prospects at the position.

What do you think? Move Reinhart back to the wing or keep him at center?


Should Reinhart be moved back to the wing?

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