Sabres' Bylsma believes pairing of Eichel, Reinhart can be as good as Crosby, Malkin

Kevin Hoffman / Reuters

The future of hockey in Buffalo should be a bright one.

Just how bright will it be?

New Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Byslma believes the franchise can shine like the Pittsburgh Penguins did in his time with the squad, thanks to a combination similar to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Bylsma told John Vogl of the Buffalo News that the Sabres could ride the next great center duo of Jack Eichel – who the team is projected to take in the draft – and 2014 second overall pick Sam Reinhart to greatness.

"I probably learned as much from working with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as they did from me," Bylsma said. "I think it’s going to be applicable to the likes of Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel."

After a nine-game debut with the Sabres to start the 2014-15 season, Reinhart headed back to junior to show off his talents and didn't disappoint.

The 19-year-old recorded 65 points in 47 games for the Kootenay Ice, showing a knack for setting up his teammates, as well as the ability to put the puck in the net.

After an impressive run with Boston University, where he recorded 71 points in 40 games last season, Eichel continued to earn credibility playing among men at the World Championship for the U.S.

Bylsma was an assistant on the team and got to experience the youngster first hand.

"That was a large majority of NHL players that Jack was competing against," Bylsma said. "It wasn’t for five minutes a game. It wasn’t for seven minutes a game. He was one of our better players for Team USA, so Todd Richards was putting him on the ice against Evgeni Malkin, he was putting him against good NHL players, and skill-wise, size-wise, ability-wise, he stacks up.

"He skated right by NHL players to get pucks, and we’d kind of look at each other on the bench and say, ‘That’s an NHL player he just skated by.’

"Does Jack have a lot to improve on and get better at while playing against bigger men in a bigger game? He does. But he’s a very good player. Where’s he going to stack up in terms of great or good in this league? That remains to be seen, but he’s got some very good talent."

With Eichel and Reinhart on the radar and Evander Kane, Tyler Ennis and others continuing to develop, the future in Buffalo could turn form basement dweller to formidable opponent with playoff aspirations in the not too distant future.

Just give it a little time.

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Sabres' Bylsma believes pairing of Eichel, Reinhart can be as good as Crosby, Malkin
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