Don’t overvalue Griffin Reinhart

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

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    FYI…

    Craig Button and Jim Matheson brought up Griffin Reinhart for the #3 pick on their own accord.
    I specifically stated that I would not do that deal.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Meh. I disagree.

    I don’t think we should trade the 3rd overall for Griffin Reinhart either, but 1 chart shouldn’t be the reason why. I trust scouts and detailed analysis more than 1 chart.

  • mesa

    no body piss me off more than terry jones from edmonton sun.HE is single handedly ran hemsky out of town and many players more.i love to see the oilers trade for Reinhart and he will be the first one to turn on him for being slow for nhl.

  • bazmagoo

    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.

    • BobbyCanuck

      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

  • Do what Weight did?

    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.

  • I am the Liquor

    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………..

      • I am the Liquor

        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.

  • OilClog

    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.

  • @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.

  • I am the Liquor

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jonny88

    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.