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Sam Reinhart on the Florida Panthers: ‘I Want to Be Here’

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Reinhart
Sam Reinhart, center, is joined at Marlins Park by Billy The Marlin, Spencer Knight and Anton Lundell before a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sept. 6. Reinhart threw out the first pitch to Miami infielder Jon Berti. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

MIAMI — For the first time in his NHL career, Sam Reinhart is on the verge of becoming a free agent.

When this coming season is over, Reinhart could be free to sign with any team in the league.

On Wednesday night, however, the Florida Panthers forward did not sound like he wants to go anywhere.

Reinhart, 27, spoke before being part of the Miami Marlins’ cross-promotion with the Panthers by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to infielder Jon Berti.

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“Billy (Zito) has given me the longest deal I have had in this league, so this is nothing new,” said Reinhart, who enters the final year of a three-year extension he signed not long after being acquired by the Panthers from Buffalo at the 2021 NHL Draft.

“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.”

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Zito spoke at the draft in Nashville that no contract extensions were expected to be announced on or around July 1 when they could officially be signed — but some could be forthcoming once camp starts and things start picking up.

Not only is Reinhart eligible for an extension to stay beyond this season, but so are defensemen Brandon Montour and Gus Forsling.

Anton Lundell, who was also at Marlins Park along with Spencer Knight, can also sign an extension as a restricted free agent and said that talks have taken place with Zito and the Panthers.

“Right now, I am just focused on playing,” Lundell said. “There have always been some talks and we’ll see what happens. I am sure things will show at the right time.”

Prior to the game, Reinhart spoke on a number of subjects including his team’s short offseason, training camp starting in two weeks and playing baseball while growing up in Vancouver.

No, the (high) strike thrown Wednesday certainly was not his first — and we’re not talking about the first pitch he threw at a Buffalo Bisons game, either.

“Growing up I played quite a bit,” said Reinhart, who grew up a Mariners fan thanks in part to Ichiro but added that he is now a Marlins fan.

“I stopped when I was fairly young but in my first couple of offseasons in the league I played on summer softball teams.”

Reinhart

Florida Panthers forward Sam Reinhart throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the Miami Marlins beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night in Little Havana. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

As far as hockey goes, Reinhart agreed Marlins Park would be a great place to play an outdoor game down the road.

Despite the temperatures in the high 80s outside the park, it was right chilly down on the field by the Miami dugout.

The air conditioning, with the roof closed, does its job quite well.

“I would love it,” Reinhart said. “My wife and I, we were not prepared. I didn’t look it up, I thought (the ballpark) was outdoors. I wish we dressed a little warmer. This is fantastic. I might sleep here. It would be great. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of an outdoor/indoor game in South Florida?”

The Panthers will report to camp for physicals and media commitments on Sept. 20 with on-ice festivities starting the following day.

Florida’s first preseason games are Sept. 25 in Sunrise against Nashville.

While the offseason was short as the Panthers played into June, it was eventful — at least for Reinhart. Unlike a number of his teammates, he came out of the long postseason unscathed save for a few bumps and bruises and says he is 100 percent.

“It was short but you’re still ready to come back, still excited to get back,’’ said Reinhart, who got married over the summer and was accompanied by wife Jessica on Wednesday.

“(The playoff run) almost takes less to get back into it. It takes less time on the ice to get back into it. We’re excited to get back into it, everyone is filtering in and excited for another challenge this season. … It’s a short offseason but it definitely makes you want to play more especially coming up short like we did. We are motivated.”

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