Acquired from Phoenix just prior to the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (for prospect Stefan Meyer), forward Steven Reinprecht quickly signed a three-year deal with former Florida GM Randy Sexton's suddenly porpoising Panthers. Considering the previous general manger had bailed for a high-profile coaching gig with Montreal only six weeks earlier, and the club being in the midst of several sales pitches (never a good omen for those poor saps in the hockey ops department needing to spend coin on legitimate talent), Reinprecht's decision to remain with a then-rudderless team who traded for his rights could be seen as inspired at the time - displaying some of that "character" quotient we've heard so much of lately - allowing for his smooth transition into a leadership role on the roster.
More after the jump...
Or maybe it was just the money, since massive overpayment was the (absolutely necessary) order of the summer for Sexton.
Whatever the case, "Reino" - who notched 41 points (14 goals) in 73 contests with the Coyotes only a year earlier - struggled to maintain consistency during his first season in Sunrise, totaling 38 points (16 goals) after a full slate of 82 games in 2009-10; one of only four Panthers to complete the schedule. Often flipping between center and the wings in a club-injury-ravaged campaign, he was called upon to win faceoffs (which happened 47.7% of the time), provide a stabilizing second or third-line offensive force, and - so it was hoped - a return to his glory days with Colorado (46 and 51 points, respectively, in far less than 82 matches per season between 2001 and '03.)
With Dale Tallon's arrival for the 2010-11 haul, Reino at least had secured a spot heading into the new season, possibly staring at a first-line scenario. The top-trio assignment never materialized but he did find limited success with fellow veterans Cory Stillman and Radek Dvorak at a time when no one else could find the net, ultimately picking up 10 points (4 goals) in 29 contests. Following a single assist during a seven-game stretch in late December - and the Panthers undoubtedly gearing up to head in a new direction - he was waived soon after (going unclaimed) and finally "loaned" to the German League's Adler Mannheim (18gp 4g-9-a 13p).
A gold medal winner with Canada at the 2003 IIHF World Hockey Championships, Reinprecht has one year remaining on the original three-season deal with a cap hit of $2.05M (per CapGeek). At 35, he's likely seen his final sheet of NHL ice, as his trade value - thanks to that bloated contract and a salary of $2.175M - has undeniably reached a low point; few clubs will be willing take on such a numbers-game, though several teams, namely the Islanders, Predators, and Avalanche, are still seeking the cap floor.
Florida management probably has only two options available to them outside of an almost unimaginable trade: another European league "loan", or burying the contract in San Antonio.
Any chance for another shot at the big club in September?