Florida Panthers: What a Possible Sam Reinhart Extension Could Look Like

Sam Reinhart is one of the Florida Panthers most important upcoming UFA's this offseason. With Reinhart hitting the 50-goal plateau in Game 71 of the 2023-24 NHL Regular Season, he is due to sign a potentially massive contract.

Florida Panthers v Philadelphia Flyers
Florida Panthers v Philadelphia Flyers / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

Noted 50-goal scorer (and counting) Sam Reinhart is the Florida Panthers' most important upcoming UFA heading into this offseason. What could a potential extension look like for Reinhart and the Cats?

It is almost once again That Time, folks. We aren't quite in full-blown speculation territory yet, what with 11 games remaining in the 2023-24 NHL Regular Season and a (hopefully) long postseason campaign in the offings for the Florida Panthers. However, with Sam Reinhart becoming just the 2nd player in Florida Panthers history - alongside Pavel Bure, the Russian Rocket - to hit the 50-goal plateau, it can't hurt to speculate a bit on what an extension could look like to keep Reinhart in Sunrise.

Reinhart's comparables at this point are an interesting topic. 50 goals is no small or easy feat, and its not a plateau many players will ever be able to stand on in their careers. Reinhart, while supremely talented and vastly underrated by certain Buffalo Sabres journalists (*cough*Jerry Sullivan*cough*) is he a perennial 50-goal scorer? Could he achieve this feat largely without playing on Aleksander Barkov's - or some other superstar two-way center's - wing? Are these results even close to repeatable? Honestly, I'm not sure of the answer to any of these questions. He very well could have repeat 50-goal seasons. He could even carry a line on his own if need be - he's done as much with Barkov out the past few games.

Sam Reinhart's production has skyrocketed since becoming a member of the Florida Panthers; in 231 games in a Panthers sweater, Reinhart has scored 114 goals and 118 assists for a total of 232 points. In 454 games as a Buffalo Sabre, Reinhart scored 134 goals and 161 assists for a total of 295 points. While it might be doubtful that Reinhart is a perennial 50-goal scorer with the Panthers, he is a perennial 30-goal scorer, or at least good for 20+ goals per season which is still stellar.

As of right now, Reinhart could easily fetch a Matthew Tkachuk-style contract on the open market; many teams are surely chomping at the bit to sign a player as effective as Sam Reinhart in nearly all situations. I'm of the mindset that he could even fetch a higher AAV than Tkachuk, although at 28 years of age, I doubt the term would be the same. At any rate, Sam Reinhart is going to be absolutely paid in a few months; the question remains: who is going to be paying him?

With an expected $20.6M in cap space heading into next season (without taking into account any cap ceiling raises) and other important UFA's and RFA's to sign (namely Anton Lundell, Brandon Montour, and maybe Oliver Ekman-Larsson), GM Bill Zito is going to have to either get creative, hope one or more of these players takes a hometown discount, or make some difficult decisions heading into the offseason.

What the Florida Panthers could realistically pay is a shorter-term contract with roughly the equivalent AAV as Tkachuk's contract - maybe in the $9.5M range. This would leave them room to sign one or two of the aforementioned UFA/RFA's, and maybe even make a deal or two at the draft or during free agency. I think they may come in at around a 5-year contract carrying a $9M-$10M AAV or so, which admittedly is a bit risky. Reinhart would be 33-34 when this contract is over, which isn't quite as bad as paying him a small fortune when he hits 35+. The AAV could even be as low as $8M, but he could easily fetch more on the open market.

I would honestly love it if Sam Reinhart decided to stick around as a Panther for another several years. The guy is an absolute gem and he has a proven nose for the net. He seems to be fully bought-in to the Panthers system, and he's playing the best hockey he has ever played. One thing is for sure, though: Bill Zito has his plate full for the next several months and, though I do not envy him one bit, I trust him more than anyone to do the right thing for the Florida Panthers.