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Fantasy Spin: Eichel, Reinhart develop chemistry

Rookies join forces on Sabres' top line with O'Reilly out

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Fantasy Insider

It's not just another lost season for the Buffalo Sabres. Their bright future is on display.

There has been plenty of hype surrounding center Jack Eichel (C, 77 percent owned), who has had ups and downs but is second (46 points) among rookies in scoring behind Artemi Panarin (61) of the Chicago Blackhawks. He's also tied for second among rookies in power-play points (18) and leads his class in shots on goal (204).

Fantasy owners expected an immediate impact from Eichel, but not many expected the Sabres to have another rookie in the vicinity of 20 goals.

Eichel has 20 goals and new linemate Sam Reinhart (C, 7 percent owned) scored his 19th Tuesday against the New York Rangers off a primary assist from his rookie teammate. Reinhart is tied for third in goals among rookies with Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings. These Buffalo rookies have been alongside high-volume shooter Evander Kane in recent games, and there have been tangible results with Eichel and Reinhart in the midst of four and three-game point streaks, respectively.

The most recent rookie teammates with 20 or more goals apiece are Mike Hoffman (27) and Mark Stone (26) last season, Tyler Johnson (24) and Ondrej Palat (23) in 2013-14, and Jonathan Toews (24) and Patrick Kane (21) in 2007-08. One more goal from Reinhart would move him and Eichel into that rare rookie air.

Video: NYR@BUF: Reinhart finishes Eichel's feed on the rush

The biggest reason the Sabres have tinkered with their lines this late in the season is the absence of an injured Ryan O'Reilly, who has not played since Feb. 19 and is expected to miss most, possibly all, of Buffalo's 14 remaining games. O'Reilly, who has 49 points, 19 PPP and 131 SOG in 59 games with the Sabres, expects to be the top-line center next season. His 21:51 of ice time per game this season leads Sabres forwards.

As for Reinhart, he has spent much of his time this season on O'Reilly's line, but now gets a late-season trial with Eichel at even strength and on the power play. He should be added in deep fantasy formats with more top-flight minutes to come. This stretch is also worth monitoring for those in keeper leagues because this duo could stick together for years to come if they sustain late-season success.

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