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The Florida Panthers acquired forward Sam Reinhart from the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday in exchange for Florida’s first-round selection in the 2022 NHL draft and goaltender Devon Levi.
The trade was completed during the third round of the 2021 draft.
“I’m absolutely thrilled and motivated to come to a group that is hungry and trying to make it to the next step,” Reinhart said.
Reinhart, 25, was selected by the Sabres with the second pick in the 2014 draft.
He has recorded 134 goals and 161 assists in 454 NHL games, but is a player who has been on the rise in lighting the lamp. Reinhart logged his highest goals-per-game average last season, with 25 goals in 54 games (0.46 goals per game). His previous best such rate had been in 2019-20 with a 0.32 (22 goals in 69 games).
“Sam has established himself as one of the best playmaking scorers in the league, and we are thrilled to be able to add him to our Panthers lineup,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said. “His competitiveness and hunger to succeed will fit seamlessly with the culture we are building here in South Florida.”
Internationally, Reinhart earned a Gold Medal in 2016 and a Silver Medal in 2019, representing Canada at the IIHF World Championships.
Reinhart’s father, Paul, played in the NHL for 10 years, suiting up for the Atlanta and Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks.
The Panthers now have three of the top four picks from the 2014 draft. Aaron Ekblad was selected first by the Panthers, while Sam Bennett was taken fourth by the Flames.
“I’ve talked to Ekblad,” Reinhart said. “I’ll try to reach out to Sam [Bennett] today at some point.”
In the second round of the 2021 draft, the Panthers selected defenseman Evan Nause with the 56th pick.
Nause, 18, recorded four goals and 18 assists in 32 games for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL.
“I had my fingers crossed I was going to be picked by Florida,” Nause said. “I really wanted it.”
He was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team in 2020-21 after leading first-year defensemen and ranking ninth among rookies at any position.
Nause is familiar with the Panthers organization and their players. Also a skater of the QMJHL was Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau from 2009-13.
“Seeing them put up the fight that they did against the Lightning in the playoffs was phenomenal,” Nause said. “Guys like Aaron Ekblad, as a d-man, looking at a guy like him. I grew up watching Jonathan Huberdeau in the Q[MJHL]. Barkov is obviously phenomenal. There’s a ton of guys that I like to watch. I hopefully get to play with those guys some day.”
“His skill as a skater lends itself exceptionally well to the breakout,” the EliteProspects’ scouting report said. “Nause creates advantages for himself on every defensive zone puck retrieval, shoulder checking for options, using the environment to obstruct forecheckers, adapting his speed to the situation, and using the middle of the ice to create controlled exits.”
The Panthers added their second defenseman of the draft with Vladislav Lukashevich, selected 120th, in the third round.
“His puck-moving is perhaps the best aspect of his game,” the EliteProspects’ scouting report said. “He shows deception, an unusual patience with the puck, a desire to beat forecheckers 1-on-1 and make plays through them, and the passing ability that supports these kinds of plays.”
Lukashevich, 18, recorded three goals and 16 assists in 36 games for the Loko Yaroslavl of the MHL.
With their first goalie pick of the draft, the Florida Panthers selected Kirill Gerasimyuk with the 152nd pick.
Gerasimyuk, 17, had a .931 save percentage for SKA-Varyagi im. Morozova of the MHL.
“He’s calm and composed, quick to get down to the butterfly,” the EliteProspects’ scouting report said. “Just about unbeatable on his glove side, and controls rebounds with ease.”
The Panthers added their first forward of the day with Jakub Kos at pick 184.
Kos, 18, recorded five goals and 13 assists for the Tampereen Ilves of U20 SM-sarja.
Zito described Kos as a “skilled forward.”
Florida rounded out the draft with another defenseman, Braden Haché, with the 210th pick.
Haché, 18, accumulated five points in 29 games for the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL in the 2019-20 season.
“He [Haché] is a pretty steady stay-at-home defensive defenseman that our guys were pretty high on,” Zito said.”
Overall, Zito was happy with the selections made by the Panthers and their scouting team. He mentioned that it isn’t just skill, but also character that comes into account when drafting players.
“Look at our team,” Zito said. “Night in and night out, the reasons we have success, from Sasha [Barkov] all the way down, is the character of the guys. You win as a team and you win with character.”
Samoskevich, 18, recorded 13 goals and 24 assists in 36 games played for the Chicago Steel of the USHL during the 2020-21 season and will play for the University of Michigan in 2021-22.