Sam Reinhart and the Florida Panthers continue to trend upward

Sam Reinhart's stellar season continues as he reaches 50 goals for the Florida Panthers.
Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers
Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

For the first time since the 2000-01 season, the Florida Panthers boast a 50-goal scorer. Pavel Bure notched the milestone in consecutive seasons, scoring 58 and 59, respectively. Sam Reinhart continues to climb up the ranks, now sitting just eight goals shy of the Panthers’ record.

During Sunday’s matinee against Philadelphia, the Panthers earned a 4-1 victory, their first over the Flyers this year. This was a big game for Reinhart. The Vancouver native buried No. 49 and 50, with the milestone mark on an empty net goal. 

“Obviously with the season he’s had, it was a no-brainer that it was going to come,” defenseman Brandon Montour said. “He’s scored any which way this year, so empty-netter or not, it’s 50 forever, and we keep building off that.”

Reinhart is one of the three current National Hockey League players to reach the milestone. Toronto’s Auston Matthews and Edmonton’s Zach Hyman also have reached that number.

The Florida Panthers are in a good spot and Sam Reinhart is a big reason

“It’s just such an elite class…and there are just a few people whose names score 50 that you don’t know. You’ve just heard of them because they’re the superstars,” head coach Paul Maurice said. 

Florida’s forward was classified as an average player before heading down south, averaging 22 goals per year in his six seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. Florida General Manager Bill Zito took a chance on him, a cap-friendly deal, which eventually led to a three-year contract worth $19.5 million.

Reinhart has shined in the final year of his deal. Zito will need to work his magic to keep the prevailing star in the red sweater.

Despite the offensive production, Reinhart digs into an even larger role, continuously putting the team before himself. He has voluntarily moved himself down to the third line, as Florida picked up veteran Vladimir Tarasenko before the trade deadline and he’s slotted up top with captain Aleksander Barkov. 

Reinhart is playing both sides of the puck. He owns the team’s lead for forwards in ice time, a 20:15 margin, and one in which he played over 22 minutes as Florida has played through the absence of top players in Aleksander Barkov, Aaron Ekblad, and Gustav Forsling.

Florida has lost six of their twelve contests in March but Reinhart has found the back of the net ten times. 

The 28-year-old has scored a league-high 27 goals on the man advantage, with the trailing Leon Draisaitl a hefty eight powerplay goals behind.

While Reinhart has taken the PPG franchise record, he’s also looking for a share in the Panthers’ history books for shorthanded goals. The sharpshooter sits one penalty kill goal shy of Tom Fitzgerald’s six, which occurred back in 1995.

The Florida Panthers now sit in second place in the Atlantic division with one game in hand after falling 4-3 to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. Sam Reinhart continues his stretch of success, netting his 51st goal on the season. 

Reinhart is now just eight goals shy of etching his name into Florida Panthers history and he has ten regular season games to set the mark.