In addition to re-signing Anthony Duclair, Gustav Forsling, Lucas Carlsson, Juho Lammikko, Sam Bennett, Brandon Montour, and extending Carter Verhaeghe, the Florida Panthers and General Manager Bill Zito made their biggest offseason move through the trade market. On day two of the 2021 NHL draft, Zito agreed to send promising goaltending prospect Devon Levi and a Top-10 protected first round pick to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for former 2nd overall pick Sam Reinhart.
Production wise, Reinhart was one of few bright spots for the Sabres this season, as in fifty-four games, he scored twenty-five goals with fifteen assists for forty points. However, his dreadful -13.69 individual AB score for the 2020-21 season was the second worst registered score of any Sabres player, ahead of only Rasmus Dahlin’s -18.79. We have six full seasons of AB data on Reinhart, and he has never registered an individually positive AB season in his entire career. In fact, his best two AB seasons were his rookie and sophomore year. Since that two-year span, he has registered two -10 or worse AB seasons including a -10.61 in his 3rd NHL season. His -13.69 score last season was the worst score he has ever registered in his career to this point. The Florida Panthers are taking a massive gamble on Reinhart here, especially because he needs a new contract. The closest comparable to Reinhart that we came up with using the arbitration analyzer was Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders, as their career average points/AB was 42.15 (Nelson) to 42.28 (Reinhart). Brock Nelson currently makes $6 million AAV, which is only an 800k raise from what Reinhart made in 2020-21. We would be hesitant giving Reinhart anything more than $6 million long term, but we believe Bill Zito will end up giving him much more than that. We will be monitoring that situation carefully, as we are now almost to the middle of August with no agreement in place.
To address the Sabres side, we are fascinated by Devon Levi. During the 2019-20 season with the Carleton Place Canadians of the CCHL, the eighteen year old Levi posted a 34-2-1 record in thirty-seven games played, in which he had a .941 save percentage and a 1.47 GAA. The former Panthers 7th round pick also was incredibly impressive during the 2021 World Junior Championships, as he recorded six wins with three shutouts. In those six wins, he had a .964 save percentage and a 0.75 GAA, helping Canada earn a silver medal in a loss to team USA in the Championship game. Levi has been sensational everywhere he’s played, and we look forward to following him even more to see if he could develop into the Sabres goaltender of the future. In addition to Levi, the Sabres will also receive the Panthers first round selection in 2022, unless that pick is in the top 10, in which case the Sabres will receive the Panthers 2023 1st round pick instead. Much more to come, as we don’t believe either club is done dealing yet.