Sam Reinhart heads to Florida Panthers, first-round pick and Devon Levi to Buffalo Sabres

Sam Reinhart is traded to the Florida Panthers, while first-round picks Dylan Strome and Michael Dal Colle were dealt to the Arizona Coyotes. Meanwhile, Devon “I can’t stop” Levi was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres.

Sam Reinhart, the fourth overall pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, is headed to the Florida Panthers, the team he grew up cheering for. He’ll be joining fellow high draft picks William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Kasperi Kapanen on a young, exciting, and hard-working team.

The huge deal that Buffalo Sabres supporters were hoping for, including captain Jack Eichel, has yet to happen. However, GM Kevyn Adams continues to make adjustments to the team’s depth, most recently selling Sam Reinhart to the Florida Panthers in return for a conditional first-round selection in 2022 and goalie prospect Devon Levi.

In this trade, who GM comes out on top? Let’s go into the details and assign some grades:

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The Panthers have added one of the most consistent goal scorers in the NHL over the past four seasons. Since the 2017-18 season, Reinhart, 25, has 94 goals. In that time frame, his 0.33 goals-per-game average puts him in the company of Taylor Hall, Phil Kessel, Jamie Benn, David Perron, and Jonathan Marchessault. In five of his six NHL seasons, he has scored more than 20 goals.

Reinhart is a capable 5-on-5 and power-play player, with 5.84 points per 60 minutes of power-play action this season. From a statistical standpoint, he’s a possession monster with much more possessions than his colleagues. He has contributed almost four and a half victories to the Sabres’ total over the past three seasons, scoring 24.1 goals over average.

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He can play various forward positions, and despite being a center, he took more than 200 faceoffs for the first time since 2016-17. Reinhart may go to the wing if Aleksander Barkov and Sam Bennett play in the center for the Panthers.

In essence, they got a sure-fire 20-goal scorer in exchange for a goalie who was buried on their depth chart behind Sergei Bobrovsky and Spencer Knight, as well as a first-round pick that’s top-10 protected in 2022, when blue-chip prospects Shane Wright, Matthew Savoie, Brad Lambert, and Rutger McGroarty are available.

Even as a rental, he’s well worth a first-round selection. But that’s what takes it down a notch. Prior to the deal, the Panthers had not discussed a contract with Reinhart. On Saturday, he said he’ll be signing a contract; what does that entail? We don’t know yet if this will be a short-term deal (perhaps via arbitration, since he has arbitration rights as a restricted free agent) or a lengthier deal.

In any case, it’s a fantastic addition to a developing squad.


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Many Sabres fans were hoping for a better outcome here, but they didn’t get it. That much is obvious. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News snarled that GM Kevyn Adams “didn’t even get [Patrik] Berglund and [Vlad] Sobotka back for Reinhart.” It’s essentially nuclear warfare to use the Ryan O’Reilly deal to criticize a Sabres transaction.

To Adams’ credit, the other side of the table had no idea what Reinhart’s deal with them would look like. The center will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in a year. It’s conceivable he wants a one-year bridging contract before trying the free-agent market next summer, when the league’s economic circumstances should have improved. Adams was looking for a one-season rental, not someone who would be a long-term commitment.

After that was determined, Buffalo did the best it could, but it wasn’t enough.

Is Levi a top-tier goaltender prospect? No, but he has a formidable skill set that has garnered parallels to Carey Price and Jonathan Quick. Combine him with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Erik Portillo in a goalkeeper stew to see whether a “goalie of the future” emerges.

The first-rounder, though, is the true disappointment. It’s annoying to have it lottery-protected in a draft when you want as many balls bouncing about in the machine as possible — but it’s unlikely the Panthers are in that lottery at this time.

It’s difficult to assess the return without knowing what the other bids for Reinhart were. The Sabres, on the other hand, focused down on the Panthers and, given the circumstances, fared well. This isn’t ideal. It’s all right.

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