Sam Reinhart is appearing in his first NHL All-Star Game, and, with it held in media-mad Toronto, his contract situation with the Florida Panthers was bound to come up.
He was asked about it midway through his media day appearance on Thursday afternoon.
Reinhart could be one of the top free agents on the market following this season — if it gets that far.
Reinhart is having a contract year for the ages, playing in the final season of the three-year extension he signed with the Panthers upon being acquired in a deal with the Sabres at the 2021 NHL Draft.
That only leads to speculation on what will happen this summer.
Through the first 49 games of this season, Reinhart has already set a career-high with 37 goals — second in the NHL to Toronto’s Auston Matthews — and holds the Florida franchise record, with 20 of them coming on the power play.
Reinhart is 20 points away from tying his franchise-high of 82 he set during the 2021-22 season, his first with Florida.
Regarding a new contract with the Panthers, he continued to stress he has no concerns as the two sides continue to talk.
“It has been good. I have no issues with it being ongoing, and they don’t either,” Reinhart said on Thursday. “We are both comfortable where we’re at and we’re trying to ultimately win the Stanley Cup this year. That is where our focus is.
“We both know where each other stands; we both want to get something done. We’re both comfortable with how it’s going. It is not distracting me by any means. When you try to build what we’re trying to build in Florida, some things take time.”
Reinhart has been saying much of the same since the first time FHN asked him about a new contract before he threw out the first pitch at a Miami Marlins game in September.
He reiterated the same when he spoke with FHN in November as well.
“Billy (Zito) has given me the longest deal I have had in this league, so this is nothing new,” Reinhart said at Marlins Park.
“It is not something I stress over or lose sleep over too much. They know I want to be here, I know they want me here.
“We have no problems sort of waiting it out so I am just looking forward to the start of the season being here. We have both expressed our interests and our desire for me to be here. And that’s exciting. My focus is solely on the start of camp and the start of the season.”
As for general manager Bill Zito, he says there is no rush on getting something done.
“Sam is a guy we would like to keep around,’’ Zito told NHL.com. “I am thrilled with the production and very happy for him. He works awfully hard and does so many little things for our team.
“He is a great leader and is a great person. It has been fun to see him get off to this start.”
As far as what Reinhart’s new deal will look like — aside from having a lot of zeros — it sounds like he would like something with plenty of term.
And he continues to say he wants to stay in South Florida with the Panthers.
“That’s the goal from both sides and we have both made that clear,’’ Reinhart said Thursday. “Time will tell. … As a player, you want that comfort (of a long-term contract) and that is not going to change my drive.
“The short-term deals have not been that easy. I joked with Joe Thornton a few years ago; his longest were two or three years. You see the type of career he has had. But you want to take advantage of every opportunity.’’
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
- Season Series — At Florida: Feb. 6; March 7. At Philadelphia: March 24.
- Last season: Philadelphia won 2-1
- All-time regular season series: Philadelphia leads 57-37-6, 7 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Feb. 8 vs. Washington, 7 p.m.