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.
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.)
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.