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With negotiations ongoing, Reinhart joins teammates at Harborcenter

Forward says he's treating this season as he would any other

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

He may not have a contract, but Sam Reinhart is preparing for the upcoming season as he would any other. Reinhart arrived in Buffalo and was on the ice with his Sabres teammates for practice and a scrimmage at Harborcenter on Tuesday.

Reinhart is Buffalo's lone unsigned restricted free agent. While contract talks are ongoing, he made it a point to take advantage of the week and a half remaining before camp opens as an opportunity to begin meshing with the number of new faces added to the Sabres throughout the summer.

"That stuff's all between us," Reinhart said when asked about negotiations. "Right now, my focus is being around the rink, being with the guys, practicing like I would for a normal season. That's the way it's going to turn out to be, so I'm just treating it like that."

Reinhart is coming off a season that started slow but finished with the best stretch of his young career. He scored 37 points (18+19) in his final 38 games, finishing with a career-high 25 goals and 50 points. That pace would put him at 79 points if applied to a full 82-game season. 

"I was happy with how I was able to battle through that adversity and get through it and get back to the player that I know I can be and know I am," he said. "A lot of that confidence was translated into the off-ice this summer and I'm looking forward to starting fresh."

Reinhart chalked up his scoring streak to confidence last season, which could be seen in the way he was getting the puck to the net. He tallied 106 shots in those final 38 games (an average of 2.79 shots per game) compared to 82 shots over his first 44 contests. He scored at a 17.9-percent clip in the latter stretch. 

"My focus is to help the team every night and the player I am is I have to contribute, I have to put up numbers," he said. "I think a lot of the chances I was creating late and with my linemates, we were capitalizing on them. That's a big part of the focus and a big part of what I need to start with this year."

Reinhart will likely need to generate chances with new linemates this season given the additions made over the summer, a fact that played into his early arrival. 

"You really have to value that time together and get a feel for the guys," he said. "That's why I am here and skating with the guys. But I think it's a fresh mentality and a lot of excitement around the guys. We're moving forward and that's the way it's got to be."

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