Neither Florida general manager Bill Zito nor his Buffalo Sabres counterpart Kevyn Adams would comment on national reports that the Panthers acquired center Sam Reinhart late Friday night.
Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported that Reinhart, a restricted free agent, would be going to Florida pending a completed trade call with the NHL.
Zito spoke to the South Florida media early Saturday morning at the Lauderdale Yacht Club before the trade call had been completed. In Buffalo, Adams was meeting with the Sabres media.
”It would be inappropriate to talk about anything like that right now,” Zito said. “If it becomes appropriate, I will address it.”
Who is part of this trade — aside from Reinhart — is not immediately known.
Friedman did report that Florida goalie prospect Devon Levi, who lost the gold medal matchup to Spencer Knight and Team USA at World Juniors, would be headed to the Sabres. Draft picks, at least, would be as well.
Zito credited Roberto Luongo for jumping in and pressing the Panthers to take Levi in the seventh round at last year’s draft.
With Knight already breaking in with the Panthers, signing Levi in a year or two may become problematic so trading him is not much of a surprise considering his higher stock after this past season.
Of course, no one thinks a goalie prospect is going to be the end of this deal.
Florida is said to be giving up next year’s first-round pick plus Levi; Saturday’s second round pick may also be in play but probably not.
The Panthers do not have a third-round selection in 2021 because Buffalo already has it. The Panthers sent that to the Sabres at the deadline for defenseman Brandon Montour.
A veteran player such as Frank Vatrano or Noel Acciari could be part of the Buffalo return although both players are entering the final year of their current contract.
As for what the Panthers are getting back: Reinhart could slide in to center Florida’s second line behind Sasha Barkov or return to playing on the wing where he has spent most of his career in Buffalo.
With Jack Eichel hurt this season, Reinhart moved to center Buffalo’s top line and tied a career-high with 25 goals and did so in just 56 games.
The 25-year-old ended up leading a pretty bad Buffalo team with 40 points last season. He has averaged 22 goals in his six full-time seasons with the Sabres. He also had 10 goals and 16 points on the power play this season.
In 454 career games, Reinhart has scored 134 goals with 295 points.
Reinhart, like others, have made it clear they want out of Buffalo but Florida is thought to want to have a contract extension in place with Reinhart before a deal could be done.
Reinhart is a restricted free agent as is Sam Bennett, whom the Panthers acquired at the trade deadline.
Coincidentally, if Reinhart ends up in Florida, the Panthers would have three of the top four picks of the 2014 NHL Draft which was held in Philadelphia.
Florida took Aaron Ekblad first overall with Reinhart going the Sabres at No. 2. Bennett was picked fourth.
On Friday, the Panthers took winger Mackie Samoskevich with the 24th overall selection. Samoskevich scored 13 goals with 37 points for the USHL Chicago Steel last season.
He was one of five players with ties to the University of Michigan to be taken in the first round.
The second round begins Saturday at 11 a.m.
The trade call should be completed by then.
This story will be updated as the night goes along. Stay tuned.