Don't overvalue Griffin Reinhart

Jonathan Willis
April 27 2014 07:00AM

I don’t know where it’s coming from, but Edmonton is abuzz with talk of a trade that would see the Oilers move their third overall pick in this year’s draft to the New York Islanders in exchange for Griffin Reinhart, the fourth overall pick in 2012.

It strikes me as a bad idea.

The Arguments

Bob Stauffer had two guests on his show bring up the subject recently – TSN scout (and former NHL G.M.) Craig Button and the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson. Terry Jones wrote about the possibility in the Edmonton Sun, and David Staples riffed on that in a follow-up piece on the Journal’s website.

Jones’ argument can be summarized by one paragraph from that column:

Lord knows the Oilers need a ready-to-play-in-the-NHL shutdown defenceman. And if you've been watching the Oil Kings this season and especially this playoff season, Reinhart seems to be exactly what they're looking for.

Staples argument against can be shortened even further, to two words: Colten Teubert. (I highly recommend the video above in the context of this discussion; it's included because the TSN commentary is fascinating in hindsight.)

Production

Player Draft League Draft-1 Draft Draft+1 Draft+2
Griffin Reinhart 4th, 2012 WHL 46 51 40 38
Ryan Murray 2nd, 2012 WHL 54 55 61 NHL
Erik Gudbranson 3rd, 2010 OHL 29 46 63 NHL
Jared Cowen 9th, 2009 WHL 22 36 42 68
Luke Schenn 5th, 2008 WHL 33 40 NHL NHL
Karl Alzner 5th, 2007 WHL 28 61 49 AHL/NHL
Keaton Ellerby 10th, 2007 WHL 10 30 31 AHL
Braydon Coburn 8th, 2003 WHL 45 29 45 60
Dion Phaneuf 9th, 2003 WHL 21 35 57 83
Colten Teubert 13th, 2008 WHL 14 29 51 55

The chart above shows every major junior defenceman since 2000 to be selected in the top 10 spots of the NHL draft while posting an 82-game offensive total not more than 10 points above that of Reinhart in his draft year (in deference to Staples, I’ve included Colten Teubert as well).

It isn’t a bad list, until we get to the season two years post-draft, the season Reinhart is completing now. To a man, every one of these defenceman (almost all of them defensive defenders at the NHL level) were posting 50-plus point seasons (per 82 games) in junior or had graduated to the professional ranks. The only exception is Reinhart, whose offence fell sharply in his first post-draft season and has continued to stagnate.

Now, there are roughly 1,000,000 things points by a defenceman don’t tell us. Points miss big chunks of the picture with forwards, and they miss even more of it with defencemen.

But here’s the rub: hockey can’t be neatly divided into offence and defence. Shutdown players don’t leave the ice when their team gets possession of the puck. So a lack of offence at the junior level either means a lack of ability (i.e. they can’t shoot and can’t pass) or it means they’re spending their entire time in the defensive zone. That’s why players who turn into shutdown types in the NHL generally score in junior; they may primarily be playing a defensive game, but a successful defensive game generally also equates to points.

So it’s a little troubling that Reinhart is getting lapped offensively by a guy like Teubert at the same age. It’s particularly unnerving when somebody like Central Scouting director Dan Marr (in the video above) is comparing him to defencemen like Paul Reinhart (who flirted with a point-per-game pace in the 1980’s) and Alex Edler (who had posted 49 points in the year the video was made).

At best, Reinhart isn’t the player he was projected to be when the Islanders drafted him. Just like a new car that depreciates the moment its buyer drives it off the lot, that suggests the Oilers shouldn't have to pay the same price (well, more, technically) than the Islanders did to add the player. It's also worth remembering that the Oilers have a pile of good defensive prospects still in the pipeline. 

It simply doesn’t make sense to move an asset like the third overall pick to acquire Reinhart. It may not make sense to trade for him at all. It’s great that the Oilers get the inside information that comes with owning the Oil Kings, but that doesn’t mean they have to trade for every prospect who ever wore the jersey of that team.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Mustangheart
April 27 2014, 05:34PM
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@bazmagoo

Try a new owner

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#52 Mustangheart
April 27 2014, 05:34PM
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@bazmagoo

Try a new owner

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#53 oilloylal
April 27 2014, 05:56PM
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If teams like Chicago, boston or pitsburgh hace cap issue we should really try to take some guys like bickell, kruger shaw, or bollig. The oilers NEED players like that. All we have is Hendricks. No physicl players in our top 6.

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#54 IslesFan
April 27 2014, 06:21PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

If the Isles got offered the 3rd OV for Reinhart they'd be stupid not to take the deal.

But hey, you never know. Poor management is something the Islanders and Oilers both have plenty of familiarity with.

They'd be stupid not to take the deal? Why is that, exactly?

Like the Oilers, the Islanders have a bunch of young, exciting prospects, and a lot of people believe with a few changes (such as an upgrade in goal), we can compete ASAP. We'll need to, as Buffalo will most likely have our 2015 1st rounder as part of the Vanek trade.

With many smallish defensemen in the system, the Islanders badly need a defensive anchor who can protect a lead. Obviously Reinhart is a physical defenseman, and there are many others in our system who have the potential to bring offense from the blueline. Reinhart is not one of those players: we're more looking for him to turn into our team's Ryan Suter.

In terms of development, he's done nothing but exceed expectations since being drafted two years ago. He's captained the Oil Kings to a WHL final and has been praised for his shutdown defensive work all series. Beat reporters for the Islanders say Reinhart is the favorite to earn a spot out of training camp next year.

Why then, would we trade him for the third overall to pick another forward? The way this draft is shaping up with high-end forward prospects in the top 10, we're already going to pick up somebody with the fifth pick. We don't need another, not with Tavares, Okposo, Strome, Nelson, Lee and other young talented forwards who've already cemented themselves in the lineup.

Trading Reinhart for the 3rd overall sets back the rebuild. Do we take Sam Bennett, wait until 2017 and then trade him for a 1st round pick? At a certain point you have to trust in the blue chip prospects you draft, and I fully believe the Islanders have enough trust in Reinhart that it would be a very easy pass from Snow on this proposed trade.

Nevermind not a single person close to the Islanders has made any mention of Reinhart being on the trade block or the Isles looking to get rid of him. When Nino was acting up, the story leaked everywhere. All I've heard from anybody involved is that there's definite hype surrounding this kid's NHL debut.

I doubt you can come up with some proof from Long Island sources saying Reinhart is on the outs, or that Snow would look to move him in the offseason. Like the Oilers, the Islanders have spent too many years rebuilding and taking quality prospects in the draft to once again delay the rebuild and move NHL-ready assets for draft picks.

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#55 6 ring circus
April 27 2014, 06:44PM
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@Oilers need Ogie Ogilthorpe!

"Is It a fact that Katz picked Yak? Did you har that from Katz? From Lowe? From Tambellini? "

Of course I heard that from Katz,Lowe and Tambellini we were playing poker at Wayne manor and they were discussing the upcoming draft,on a side note,I happen to own some swamp land in Florida would you be interested in purchasing it?

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#56 Rick Stroppel
April 27 2014, 07:17PM
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6 ring circus wrote:

"Is It a fact that Katz picked Yak? Did you har that from Katz? From Lowe? From Tambellini? "

Of course I heard that from Katz,Lowe and Tambellini we were playing poker at Wayne manor and they were discussing the upcoming draft,on a side note,I happen to own some swamp land in Florida would you be interested in purchasing it?

DEDUCTION

Lowe made some weird, vague comments to the effect that Katz WAS involved in major personnel decisions.

Everyone knows the rumour is out there. How come nobody in the Oilers organization has ever said anything like this: "Of course Mr. Katz did not decide the first overall pick, he never played hockey, he doesn't really know anything about hockey, that would be stupid"?

Nobody has ever said that.

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#57 6 ring circus
April 27 2014, 07:52PM
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@Rick Stroppel

The rumor that is out there, is that the scouting staff and Tambellini were going to pick Ryan Murray instead of Yakopov, only to be over ruled by Katz who told them to pick Yakopov.I think Katz is involved in player decisions and maybe that's why Lowe is untouchable,he may just be a messenger boy.

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#58 R U Kidding Me!
April 27 2014, 08:14PM
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6 ring circus wrote:

"Is It a fact that Katz picked Yak? Did you har that from Katz? From Lowe? From Tambellini? "

Of course I heard that from Katz,Lowe and Tambellini we were playing poker at Wayne manor and they were discussing the upcoming draft,on a side note,I happen to own some swamp land in Florida would you be interested in purchasing it?

Don't you mean Wanye manor?

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#59 6 ring circus
April 27 2014, 08:33PM
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R U Kidding Me! wrote:

Don't you mean Wanye manor?

Yes ,sorry it was a typo LOL.

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#60 Oilers need Ogie Ogilthorpe!
April 27 2014, 09:13PM
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@6 ring circus

But, but, but... You said it was a fact. Now we're talking about rumors?

And I don't get it: I say I don't accept your 'fact' and you offer me land. Isn't that generally the response for someone who believes everything they hear?

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#61 OilClog
April 28 2014, 12:53AM
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Does Gagner get you Pelley-Smith?

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#62 Crystal Ball
April 28 2014, 01:58AM
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Or the Oilers think Ekblad will go first and Bennet second since they know him in Buffalo. Sam Reinhart will be there at 3. Oilers draft Sam and put together a package of Gagner and a 3rd for Griffin Reinhart. Ganger plays with his buddy Tavares and the Reinhart brothers play together in Edmonton.

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#63 I am the Liquor
April 28 2014, 07:57AM
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Gagner and a third of Katz' fortune? Just what do you think other gm's around the league think Bambi is worth?

As per the rumour it is not a move the Islanders would make. I cant think of one good reason why they would do that as has been so eloquently expressed by the Islander fan.

As per the slag on Reinhart's offense, due to...... well lets be frank, NOTHING other than his boxcars on paper, Willis you should stick to writing about what you know, whatever that is...........

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#64 JJ
April 28 2014, 08:07AM
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IslesFan wrote:

They'd be stupid not to take the deal? Why is that, exactly?

Like the Oilers, the Islanders have a bunch of young, exciting prospects, and a lot of people believe with a few changes (such as an upgrade in goal), we can compete ASAP. We'll need to, as Buffalo will most likely have our 2015 1st rounder as part of the Vanek trade.

With many smallish defensemen in the system, the Islanders badly need a defensive anchor who can protect a lead. Obviously Reinhart is a physical defenseman, and there are many others in our system who have the potential to bring offense from the blueline. Reinhart is not one of those players: we're more looking for him to turn into our team's Ryan Suter.

In terms of development, he's done nothing but exceed expectations since being drafted two years ago. He's captained the Oil Kings to a WHL final and has been praised for his shutdown defensive work all series. Beat reporters for the Islanders say Reinhart is the favorite to earn a spot out of training camp next year.

Why then, would we trade him for the third overall to pick another forward? The way this draft is shaping up with high-end forward prospects in the top 10, we're already going to pick up somebody with the fifth pick. We don't need another, not with Tavares, Okposo, Strome, Nelson, Lee and other young talented forwards who've already cemented themselves in the lineup.

Trading Reinhart for the 3rd overall sets back the rebuild. Do we take Sam Bennett, wait until 2017 and then trade him for a 1st round pick? At a certain point you have to trust in the blue chip prospects you draft, and I fully believe the Islanders have enough trust in Reinhart that it would be a very easy pass from Snow on this proposed trade.

Nevermind not a single person close to the Islanders has made any mention of Reinhart being on the trade block or the Isles looking to get rid of him. When Nino was acting up, the story leaked everywhere. All I've heard from anybody involved is that there's definite hype surrounding this kid's NHL debut.

I doubt you can come up with some proof from Long Island sources saying Reinhart is on the outs, or that Snow would look to move him in the offseason. Like the Oilers, the Islanders have spent too many years rebuilding and taking quality prospects in the draft to once again delay the rebuild and move NHL-ready assets for draft picks.

You people exist? Since when did this become IslesNation? Go to Islanders websites if you want to talk Islanders.

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#65 me
April 28 2014, 08:25AM
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The rumour came from a suggestion from Craig Button that the Oilers might want to trade their 1st overall for Reinhart.

He never said it was a rumour but like everything else it spread like wildfire.

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#68 Islesfan
April 28 2014, 11:13AM
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@Johnathan Willis

Kind of clear you're not really paying attention to the type of player Reinhart is you believe he's an Edler clone. The comparisons I heard were in the Pronger, Weber, Suter class - defensive defenseman. He'll probably never reach the level of those three players, but nobody expects him to be an offensive threat. Constantly going back to stats and how many points he'll put up is missing the point entirely.

The theory of "when drafting high, you should always take a forward and never a defenseman"... well isn't that what got the Oilers into this mess they're in now? Isn't that why your organization values Darnell Nurse so highly, because after years and years of passing on defenders, you guys finally drafted one with the potential to become a top 2 guy? A true, contending team is strong in all areas - and when you have a top 5 player in the world like John Tavares - sometimes it's better to focus on defensive strength so you can protect a lead. That's gonna be Reinhart's role on the Island.

Answer me this: would you trade Darnell Nurse to the Islanders for the fifth pick in this upcoming draft, and then take Bennett/Dal Colle? It fits your theory that teams should value top line forwards over top 4 defensemen. My theory is that young defensive bluechippers are extremely valuable, and Edmonton would hang up the phone on a Nurse/5th trade just as quick as the Isles hang up the phone on a Reinhart/3rd trade.

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#69 BobbyCanuck
April 28 2014, 11:30AM
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OilClog wrote:

Does Gagner get you Pelley-Smith?

No...no...no

All we can do is trade Gagner for some other teams high$$ long term disappointment, and hope that said players gets re-vitalized in Oil Town

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#70 I am the Liquor
April 28 2014, 11:52AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

"Gosh Jon, I don't understand why you say Reinhart's offence isn't good just because he doesn't get goals or assists or points at even the same level Colten Teubert did at the same age."

Unlike you, Ive watched Teubert and Reinhart actually play in games. Teubert was on the pp all the time. Full two minutes, feeding off of and with Jordan Eberle.

Reinhart on the other hand isnt the go to guy on the pp for the Oil Kings. That would be Cody Corbett, and the year before that it was Dylan Wruck. So comparing Teubert's "numbers" with Reinhart is ridiculous on the face of it because they werent used the same at all.

If you had a clue, knew what you were talking about, and could support your ridiculous analogies, then maybe people would take you seriously. But you dont, so why should they?

Reinhart is also much better defensively and thinks the game much better than Teubert ever did. Of course, you wouldnt know that either.

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#71 harry
April 28 2014, 12:07PM
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@Crystal Ball

Gagner and a 3rd for Reinhart, and Canadien fans are supposed to be the smartest in the world?

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#72 Harry
April 28 2014, 12:12PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

"He's done nothing but exceed expectations."

He was projected as Alex Edler, a legitimate do-it-all top pairing defenceman. That's not what he's become; his offence has disappeared entirely and at this point he's got No. 3 upside.

"Beat reporters for the Islanders say Reinhart is the favorite to earn a spot out of training camp next year."

Oh, really? The fourth overall pick is going to make the NHL after two full post-draft seasons in junior? Well, gosh, that changes everything.

I like Reinhart. He'll very likely be a useful NHL defenceman. But when you draft fourth overall, you're looking for a franchise cornerstone - and that's not what he projects to be. Sam Bennett may have the same drop-off after he gets drafted, but right now he's projected as a No. 1 centre, and it would be silly for the Islanders (or the Oilers) to value a potential top-four defender over a potential top line pivot.

I'm one of those guys who thinks NYI could have a playoff spot next year if management ever abandons its grossly negligent approach to goaltending, but that's not dependent on Reinhart making the jump.

How many "franchise cornerstones" are actually drafted in the #4 spot? Look at the last few drafts, almost always, cornerstone type players are top 2 overall picks. Landeskog might be at #3, but I think he's more of a really good player, not a cornerstone.

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#73 harry
April 28 2014, 12:19PM
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@michael

Gagner is a legitimate backup scoring threat? News no the other 29 teams in the NHL

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#74 Ed in Toronto
April 28 2014, 12:59PM
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This seems like Willis is overvaluing what the Oil have (# 3 overall should be expected to produce a "coenerstone" player) and undervaluing anything not an Oiler.

I can see this type of deal being of interest to the Oil, but what's in it for the Isles? If Reinhardt is of similar quality to Ekblad and 2 years ahead in development, I can see why the Oil would be interested.

I can only see this being a draft day deal for the Isles, if there is a player available at 3 they really covet, other than that it just doesn't male sense.

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#75 Kent Wilson
April 28 2014, 02:27PM
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If Im the Oilers and considering trading the 3rd overall pick for defensive help, I'm doing it for a quality, established NHLer, not another prospect (however highly you want to rate him).

No one really knows what Reinhart will be in the show or how long it will take him to get there. I'd assume the Oilers will want to get immediate help that is a known commodity for something as precious as a top-5 pick.

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#76 Joe
April 28 2014, 05:26PM
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It's fun when rumors just pop up like this. Anyone bother to ask themselves why the Islanders would do this? They've been looking for a guy like Reinhart themselves for years. They're not trading him to the Oilers.

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#77 Joe
April 28 2014, 05:29PM
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Crystal Ball wrote:

Or the Oilers think Ekblad will go first and Bennet second since they know him in Buffalo. Sam Reinhart will be there at 3. Oilers draft Sam and put together a package of Gagner and a 3rd for Griffin Reinhart. Ganger plays with his buddy Tavares and the Reinhart brothers play together in Edmonton.

Why would the Islanders do that??

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#78 Joe
April 28 2014, 05:30PM
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JJ wrote:

You people exist? Since when did this become IslesNation? Go to Islanders websites if you want to talk Islanders.

That's a nice attitude. He wasn't offensive; what's the problem?

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#79 infinitejoy
May 08 2014, 10:56AM
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I'm not sure what happened to Griff this year, but there was a SHARP drop-off in his play after he missed all those games half way through the season. He looked far more effective the last couple years than he has this year, especially late. He lost some jam in the corners, he doesn't seem as fast, I'm not sure what happened but it's very evident that he's taken a step back, and the stats support that. Almost every single pass he used to make was hard and perfect, it was like Pronger, just not as consistent now.

I've watched Griff for several years now (I've had season tickets since before he started in the WHL and I watched him every single game at the Mac's Midget Tournament in Calgary when he played for the Champion Calgary Buffaloes). I've seen him take strides every season, until this one, I worry about where he's headed. I love him as a player, but two years ago he seemed destined to be a fantastic, huge, scary NHL'er, if I started watching him this year I wouldn't think he had such a bright future.

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