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Camp Notebook: Reinhart practices at center on Day 1

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

Sam Reinhart doesn't plan on spending too much time making promises or talking about the work he's put in during the offseason. He made that clear following his first practice of the season at HarborCenter on Friday.

"We've been talking about letting our play do the talking," Reinhart said. "We know we have a lot to prove. You can stand here and say, 'I had the best summer of my life, I'm ready,' but we're all going to let our play do the talking this year."

If day one is any indication, he might be letting his play do the talking from the center position. Phil Housley said Thursday that he intends to try Reinhart at his natural position in the preseason, and Reinhart spent his first practice centering a line with Benoit Pouliot and Stevie Moses. 

Reinhart has spent the majority of his first two seasons on the right wing, playing alongside either Jack Eichel or Ryan O'Reilly. He got his biggest dose of center in the first half of last season, with Eichel and O'Reilly both dealing with injuries. By mid-January, Reinhart had matched his rookie assist total.

It's a stretch to read too much into lines on the first day of camp, but Housley did say he'll look to create some stability throughout the preseason.

"We're trying to get our guys used to some sort of lines, but I'm sure there's going to be changes," Housley said. "Coming into the games, hopefully we can find a combination or two that works and gives them the best opportunity to succeed."

Jason Pominville was a part of Reinhart's practice group on Friday, and he spoke highly of the depth that Reinhart could provide the Sabres down the middle.

"To be honest with you, I didn't know Sam played center as well," Pominville said. You add Sam to our centers, you a have a top three centers that can probably matchup against any centers in the league, which gives us that much more depth. Who knows where he's going to play, but having him there is nice."

Reinhart has said in the past that he feels he plays faster at center, but has always maintained that he's willing to play either position. He held that stance on Friday.

"It's just a new look," he said. "There's a long way to go before the season starts so I'm going to let my play do the talking for me and try to earn every opportunity that I get."

Here are some more notes from Friday's second practice session.


Housley liked the pace of practice

The players were understandably fatigued going straight from skate testing into practices, and it showed at the beginning of the second session. Housley stopped to address that fact to his players, and said he liked the pace from thereon out. 

"I just thought it was a little sloppy," he said. "Our execution needed to be better. I just thought I'd address that, because we want to play fast and if we don't execute we're not going to be able to play fats. I thought they did a great job of responding. Both groups worked really well and hard today."


Group B lines

9 Evander Kane - 15 Jack Eichel - 29 Jason Pominville
67 Benoit Pouliot - 23 Sam Reinhart - 52 Stevie Moses
44 Nicolas Deslauriers - 12 Kevin Porter - 95 Justin Bailey
25 Seth Griffith - 10 Jacob Josefson - 13 Nicholas Baptiste
62 Brandon Hagel - 38 Vasily Glotov

6 Marco Scandella - 47 Zach Bogosian
41 Justin Falk - 93 Victor Antipin
82 Nathan Beaulieu - 5 Matt Tennyson
79 Vojtech Budik - 54 Brycen Martin

31 Chad Johnson 
32 Adam Wilcox
33 Jason Kasdorf

You can find the lines from the early practice session, along with Jake McCabe and Rasmus Ristolainen's thoughts on Housley's system, in our notebook from this morning.

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