TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Buffalo Sabres prospect Sam Reinhart knows nothing will be handed to him, including a roster spot on a team that so desperately needs star power down the middle.
Whether or not Reinhart, selected No. 2 by the Sabres at the 2014 NHL Draft, is able to fill that void sooner than later remains to be seen. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound center is receiving his first chance to make an impression this week at the Traverse City Prospect tournament.
Though Reinhart has a minus-3 rating and is without a point in two losses, he has two shots and has played a smart game.
"It's exciting to be here; we've felt we've played two strong games and lost both so it speaks to the level of hockey and really the importance of minimizing your mistakes at this level," Reinhart said.
Reinhart, No. 4 on NHL.com's ranking of the Top 60 prospects in the League, finished fourth in the Western Hockey League with 105 points for the Kootenay Ice last season. He held his own for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship and was invited to Canada's training camp for the 2014 IIHF World Championship.
"I feel comfortable out there," he said. "At this stage in the season I feel really well and I know it'll be a long journey to make this team so this is where it starts for everyone. I've been preparing for this for a long time."
Buffalo coach Chadd Cassidy, who coaches the Sabres' American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester, likes what he sees in Reinhart. Cassidy has played his top-line center in Traverse City in all situations throughout the tournament.
"He's a very intelligent player who knows where everyone is on the ice; he uses his body really well to protect pucks and I think the thing about Sam is he makes guys on his line better," Cassidy said.
Reinhart, who was centering right wing Joel Armia and left wing Jordan Samuels-Thomas on Saturday, appreciates the advice he's receiving from all the coaches after each shift.
"During the game they are always there to help me out, telling me things I can work on," Reinhart said. "I can learn from that and that's what I really need. It's good to hear feedback from them."