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

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, 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 Butters
April 27 2014, 11:22AM
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I have figured it out. MSM is tired of our spare parts for Shea Weber and the like trade proposals. To get back at us, they propose ridiculous trades like the 3rd overall for G Reinhart and Yakupov for Clarkson.

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#52 Justin
April 27 2014, 02:25PM
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Cain wrote:

Jonathan,

I just posted this question on the previous article, but I would love to hear your answer Have you heard the real reason Smid was traded?

Was it truly for the chance to acquire a goaltending prospect or has it come out yet that there was another reason.

This trade has never made sense to me and I have always felt there had to be more to it than what we were told. Then it just seemed to get glossed over, ignored and forgotten,while we kept guys like Potter and Belov.

So...did I miss a better explanation or was the trade truly made for a goaltending prospect? Do you know?

It was a salary dump to sign Bryzgalov and gain depth in goal. If you remember how badly it was needed, it makes a little more sense however I thought Nick Schultz should have went instead.

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#53 6 ring circus
April 27 2014, 02:31PM
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@The 90's were worse (Formerly Oilers need Ogie Oglethorpe)

"One of the many problems we have with the Oilers is the pro and amateur scouting departments " which part did you miss ? That's one of the many problems the Oilers have ,it's also a fact that's come out now that Yakopov was a pick that Katz wanted ,so we have the owner making player decisions ,ask the Dallas cowboys how that's been working out for them,missing the playoffs for 8 seasons and seeing some of the players both pro and amateur that this team has picked and traded for I don't see how you can defend the scouting departments.

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#54 6 ring circus
April 27 2014, 06:44PM
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@The 90's were worse (Formerly Oilers need Ogie Oglethorpe)

"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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#55 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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#56 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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#57 michael
April 27 2014, 09:38AM
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G Rhenhart is a prospect. A good one mind you. But that is all. the telling thing is that in that draft year the Isles were allegedly offering all 12 of their picks in the draft for the number 1 pick from Columbus. They want Ryan Murray so bad they were willing to sell their first born.

For me any trade with Isles would have to involve Gagner and the 2015 number 1 pick for this years #5 and maybe a 2cd or 3rd round pick.

The Isles need to give Tavares a legitimate back up scoring threat on the second line. Gagner needs a refresh. The Isles cannot fail to make the playoffs next year and turn that pick into a lottery pick for Buffalo. They need to get better now.I also believe its their last season in Nassau. The fans in Brooklyn will want to see a winner.just saying.

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

Try a new owner

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#59 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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#60 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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#61 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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#62 Walter White
April 27 2014, 12:44PM
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Can Burke and I interest you in Max Reinhart at all......?

WW

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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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#64 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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#65 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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#66 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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#67 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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#68 pelhem grenville
April 27 2014, 11:17AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

Not really a slow day; this is something that's been bouncing around the echo chamber all week and I wanted to put my $0.02 in.

...fair enough so now that you are certain that Reinhart is a bad idea to go after will you comment on my Adam Oates question?

...this echo chamber ...is that how you do all this?

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

Try a new owner

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

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#71 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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#72 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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#73 Edsez
April 27 2014, 09:59AM
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I could see making this move for Reinhart if, and only if, they are replacing one of the current prospects traded away in a deal for the previously mentioned, on this blog, "very high-end defenseman"

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#74 flyfish1168
April 27 2014, 10:27AM
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Jason Strudwick wrote:

Why would any teams that have those proven young NHL d man trade them for an unproven 3 rx overall pick?

Hi Jason

I was just thinking ahead. For example Pittsburgh may have CAP issues and wouldn't mind getting a younger (2 years) prospect replace and by time for the CAP, Tallon is a wheeler dealer, OEL is going to cost the Yotes and the are still losing money so again to by time. Ducks probably ok but this would be more for our sake and for Hall, since the were teamamtes in junior

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#75 bazmagoo
April 27 2014, 02:45PM
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@IslesFan

As an Isles fan I'm sure you can appreciate our frustration with our lack of progress and our desire to explore every option to improve. Wondering what you feel the Isles need to do to make the playoffs? Just curious.

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#76 chester_copperpot
April 27 2014, 04:11PM
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Here's a thought: 3rd overall pick to Pittsburgh for Derek Poulliot.

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#77 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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#78 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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#79 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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