Tonawanda News

Columns

June 29, 2014

DUVALL: Reinhart the reward for Sabres' suffering

Tonawanda News — I like Tim Murray’s style. After years of subjunctive clauses and qualifiers piling up whenever former Buffalo Sabres general manager Darcy Regier spoke, Murray’s bluntness is nothing if not refreshing.

So it should have come as no surprise it took just six words for Murray to announce a franchise cornerstone was being laid when he made our selection at the draft without the usual pretense. No obligatory pleasantries congratulating the team that just won the Stanley Cup. No feigning praise for the fans in Philadelphia. I doubt Murray could choke out anything of the sort for some of the worst sports fans in America if he was paid to — which it’s worth noting he’s not.

“The Buffalo Sabres select Sam Reinhart.”

Short and sweet. To the point. No fuss, no muss. Pick your cliche to describe Murray’s tart announcement. 

Make no mistake, though, despite the lack of warm fuzzy pronouncements, Murray was plenty happy he got his man. After the selection, Murray revealed the Sabres had Reinhart rated as the best player in the draft, ahead of stud defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who was selected first overall by the Florida Panthers. That’s a bit surprising. Ekblad was widely thought of as a worthy No. 1 draft pick. He’s NHL ready and at 18 looks more like he’s 25. Reinhart looks like a kid standing next to Ekblad. But what he may lack in immediate impact he’ll make up for down the road when he hopefully turns into a franchise centerman.

I’ll state for the record, I was hoping Ekblad would fall to No. 2. A future top four defensive corps of Mark Pysyk, last year’s two first-round picks Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov and Ekblad could be the best in the NHL and would, assuming we have any front line talent whatsoever, make Buffalo a perennial playoff team at the very least.

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