BUFFALO – The Sabres will give top prospect Sam Reinhart another crack at the pro game this season.
With Reinhart’s junior season and career over, the No. 2 pick was assigned to the AHL Rochester Americans on Wednesday, according to the Kootenay Ice’s website.
The Calgary Hitmen eliminated the Ice on Monday in a seven-game first-round Western Hockey League playoff matchup
Reinhart started the season with the Sabres, registering one assist in nine games. The 19-year-old center had 19 goals and 65 points in 47 appearances with the Ice. He also played a huge role in Team Canada’s gold medal run at the world junior championship earlier this season.
The Amerks play tonight at Lake Erie and host Toronto on Friday.
Surprise, surprise, guess who the top two prospects are in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings of North American skaters for the upcoming draft?
If the Sabres stay in 30th place, they will be guaranteed one of the mega-prospects.
“The fact there wasn’t a lot of discussion was proof enough McDavid and Eichel really separated themselves and are elite generational-type players,” Central Scouting’s David Gregory told NHL.com. “It was great to be able to scout and watch these two players. But as a group I think we had McDavid rated a little bit ahead.
“Entering this year I thought his explosiveness could be better and now you look at him and he’s the most explosive guy we’re looking at.”
Sabres goalie Matt Hackett, who missed five games because he was “swollen and bruised,” practiced Wednesday.
“He looked good today,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan said inside the First Niagara Center. “He feels good.”
Nolan wasn’t sure if Hackett would play again this season.
Hackett will become an unrestricted free agent because he won’t hit the eight-game mark. The 25-year-old has played five with two contests left.
“I’m not worried about that,” Hackett said. “The main focus is my knee. I have no contract going into next year, so I’m going to make sure I take care of it.”
Meanwhile, Nolan said defenseman Andre Benoit, who left Monday’s 4-3 win against Carolina with an upper-body injury, “didn’t feel good.” Nolan will have a full update later.
Instead of a regular practice Wednesday, the Sabres held a three-on-three scrimmage officiated by assistant coach Tom Coolen, who barked out orders in a full referee outfit in front of a crowd of veterans invited by the team.
Players gleefully challenged his calls.
“We could actually tell what we really feel against one of our own,” Sabres coach Ted Nolan joked.
Nolan, whose team had Tuesday off, held three-on-three skates once a week as a junior coach.
“It’s good for your conditioning,” he said. “It’s good to read and react and it’s good to see who reads and reacts on a regular basis.”