It’s too early to write off Griffin Reinhart

Reinhart, Griffin2

The Edmonton Oilers made a controversial move on Friday, trading the No. 16 and No. 33 picks in the 2015 Draft to the New York Islanders in exchange for yet another former Oil King, defenceman Griffin Reinhart.

There are a lot of reasons to dislike the trade, and we’ll get to those, but it’s important to acknowledge that the 21-year-old Reinhart isn’t exactly dead on arrival and could yet have a solid NHL career.

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Comparables

Reinhart, Griffin

A year ago, I wrote a pessimistic piece on Reinhart’s potential. The reason for the piece was the asinine notion that the Oilers should move their No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft (they picked Leon Draisaitl) to New York for the rights to Reinhart. At the time, I pointed out that Reinhart’s career curve was a lot less impressive than most top-10 defenceman and that while our information was incomplete his declining offensive production was extremely worrisome:

[H]ockey 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.

Reinhart has played a season of professional hockey since that post was written, albeit a season spent in the AHL. With the idea of getting an idea of his potential as a player, I decided to look at all the defencemen taken in the first 15 picks out of major junior since 2000 to spend the majority of their Draft+3 season in the minors. Here’s the list, with the number indicating points/82 games played (black text indicates junior, red AHL):

Player Draft Draft Draft+1 Draft+2 Draft+3
Brandon Gormley 13th, 2010 61 84 75 35
Karl Alzner 5th, 2007 61 49 34 31
Griffin Reinhart 4th, 2012 51 40 38 31
Slater Koekkoek 10th, 2012 57 57 70 30
Braydon Coburn 8th, 2003 29 45 60 29
Luc Bourdon 10th, 2005 37 77 46 28
Keaton Ellerby 10th, 2007 30 31 25 27
Steve Eminger 12th, 2002 74 103 8 26
Thomas Hickey 4th, 2007 60 59 73 26
Colten Teubert 13th, 2008 29 51 55 24
Calvin de Haan 12th, 2009 76 58 72 23
Alex Plante 15th, 2007 54 5 54 15
Boris Valabik 10th, 2004 18 8 16 15
Dylan McIlrath 10th, 2010 30 30 36 9
Duncan Siemens 11th, 2011 49 40 37 7

Not every player on this list turned out badly.

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Braydon Coburn has enjoyed a solid NHL career, and in a lot of ways is comparable to Reinhart. Karl Alzner is a good second-pair defenceman with Washington. Others have played NHL games: Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey ranked No. 5 and No. 6 in ice-time for the Isles last year, Steve Eminger played almost 500 games, other guys are still prospects.

It’s also nice to see Reinhart’s offensive production in the AHL; it’s higher than we would have expected based on his last two years of junior and puts him in the range of Alzner and Coburn, the best two players on this list.

With that said, there’s a lot of disappointment here. Colten Teubert and Alex Plante both show up; those players need no introduction to Oilers fans. Many of the worst first-round picks in recent memory pop up on this list; generally big, plodding defencemen who were supposed to be shutdown guys and turned out to be far less than that.

People with Knowledge

Green, Bob

Bob Green, former G.M. of the Edmonton Oil Kings and current Edmonton Oilers Director of Player Personnel, offered the following rationale for the move:

I didn’t see him play in the American League. I know what he brings, what he brought in junior. He’s played one year of pro, he’s got some developing to do, but Griffin’s a winner. He’s got elite hockey sense, he’s 6’4”, he’s a defencemen; we need defencemen. He won a Memorial Cup, he was the captain. He would have taken us there I believe when he was 18 but he got injured in the Conference Final that year and we took Portland to six games and maybe we could have won that series had we had him in the lineup. Did he struggle this year in the American League? I guess he did, but I believe in Griffin as a player and I think he’s going to be just fine… He’s a horse. He can play all night. He’s 6’4”, he can move the puck, he’s got elite hockey sense, he’s got great hands. He’s the complete package that you want in a defenceman who is 20 years old.

Michael Fornabaio, who covers the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, had the following take:

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Got to admit I wasn’t as down on Reinhart as some others. He wasn’t ready, sure, but big, young defensemen rarely are. His skating will need some work. But he’ll forever be that “No. 4 pick” guy, and that was going to be hard to live up to. On the other hand, that’s not a bad return for a defenseman who didn’t look can’t-miss. And in general, the Islanders dealt from strength, a deeper pool of defense prospects to add to a thinner group of forward prospects.

From February, here’s what the Islanders blog Lighthouse Hockey had to say about the player:

Griffin Reinhart – perhaps the biggest question, he played solid, but made the occasionally headscratching pass. That has long been my impression, that Griffin will be a solid player, but is there more upside? I see Dave Langevin being the max sort of player we might get out of him. I’m not convinced that he will stick given all of our D assets – if Leddy & Boychuk stayed, Hamonic & de Haan also seem long-term and Thomas Hickey is a gem, that’s one spot if all are healthy – Reinhart can clearly enter this mix, but he also may not be essential. He remains a trade candidate to Edmonton, especially if a young forward prospect is made available.

Assessing the Trade

This isn’t a deal I would have made, and I say that without any disrespect toward Reinhart. Mathew Barzal being on the board at No. 16 looked like an awfully nice opportunity for Edmonton; most pre-draft estimates had him inside the top-10 and the Islanders obviously saw value in snapping him up at that point in the draft. Surrendering Barzal is one thing, but to top up the trade with the No. 33 pick seems like an exorbitant price to pay for a guy who isn’t a can’t-miss prospect.

Reinhart’s a nice piece to have in the system. The price was just too rich for my blood.

Some other thoughts:

  • Reinhart is a left shot defenceman, meaning that the Oilers now have him, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Martin Marincin all as logical left side players breaking into the league. That’s a lot of players at a similar stage in their development, and it probably represents the writing on the wall for Marincin. I’m not convinced Marincin is that far shy of Reinhart as a prospect, and it’s a certainty that he isn’t going to get anything close to the kind of return that Reinhart did.
  • With that said, Fornabaio notes that Reinhart did play 20 games on the right side in Bridgeport last season, and that may be where his future lies in Edmonton.
  • Earlier today, I described Peter Chiarelli’s familiarity with the Boston Bruins as a two-edged sword. On the positive side, it would give him an inside track on players and help the Oilers identify value; on the negative side being familiar with one team could lead to a fixation on Bruins’ players when better options exist out there. The same rationale applies to the Oil Kings. Owning a junior team should give the Oilers an inside track on WHL prospects, but sometimes it feels like the club is overemphasizing Edmonton products. Laurent Brossoit looks like a prospect, but on the other hand we have the iffy Reinhart trade and high picks spent on Mitch Moroz and Travis Ewanyk. The Oil Kings don’t have a monopoly on junior talent and so they shouldn’t have a monopoly on the Oilers’ draft picks either.
  • Teams don’t generally move prospects so quickly after they draft them. Interestingly, that’s something which current Oilers employee Tyler Dellow commented upon during his previous life as a blogger; as it turns out when the team that drafted a player is willing to give up on him early the results typically aren’t good.

RECENTLY BY JONATHAN WILLIS

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  • RyanCoke

    If we traded away Griffin Reinhart for magic beans the backlash would be worse. Its like trading Darnell Nurse for the same return. I would rather have a player who is 2 years developed than more magic beans. Griffin Reinhart is a horse and put the Oil Kings on his back to 3 straight finals(could have been 3 straight championships if he was not injured). Won MVP and won a memorial cup. Did any of the players available accomplish half of that? If we didn’t make the trade then tell me who we would have traded for or picked that would make this team better. Would the 2 picks be better? What is the experience of those players? Everyone is arguing why they don’t like griffin but no one seems to say who they would have picked or traded for instead other than Dougie Hamilton which we all know now was not happening without trading Nurse and a first and a second

  • Reg Dunlop

    I think it’s about time we change our philosophy about being Oilers fans. Yes in 80’s we didn’t have anything to complain about. Yes, from 2006 and on-wards we’ve sucked.

    Anyway, how about we just start cheering for our team instead of criticizing every element of it all the time. Let’s help them elevate. The whole fan-base has been so negative for so long it’s embarrassing. We just drafted McDavid and landed another solid prospect. Stop bitching already.

    You know why nobody wants to play in Edmonton, we don’t give anybody a chance, plain and simple. I’ve been to so many games I’ve lost count, but one thing always remains true, when you cheer, your team plays better.

    C’mon fans, lets chart cheering already.

    • Cowbell_Feva

      Settling an NHL record for futility will do that to a fanbase….and for those fans paying top dollar for the disgraceful mess on the ice have every right to be sour.

    • Anton CP

      A couple things… The Oilers were terrible in the mid ’90’s. I was at UofA at the time, so I could barely afford the occasional nosebleed ticket. We would wait until late in the first period, then move down into pretty much any section we felt brave enough to sit in – this included large swaths of the gold seats. That period of time may have been worse than the post 2006 debacle, because there’s no lower situation than to have a fan base that just doesn’t care anymore. I don’t know the percentage of fans that checked out, but it was a lot.

      The Oilers since that dark time have managed to become a much worse team/organization, but the fanbase has swelled. I suspect that is in small part to do with the dogged/determined, yet understaffed teams of the late 90’s/early 00’s, bolstered exponentially by the unexpected 2006 run.

      Here’s the thing, I am, and will always be an Oilers fan – I’ve been at this for so long that it’s no longer a choice. My wife is at the point where she wishes she could catch me looking at something naked on the internet instead of finding me on another Oilers related blog… My long-winded point is that I am invested in this team, likely to an unhealthy level. So, when they have an opportunity to make the team better, and risk that by making a questionable (at best) trade, then I do not cheer blindly for those that made that decision, because they are going the other direction.

      Your comment on why players don’t want to play in Edmonton is ridiculous – Edmonton has the best fans in the league (see record vs. attendance). Players want to play in stable/winning organizations. The Oilers have been among the worst in that regard for many years now…

  • Slapshot

    The Oilers traded Magnus Pääjärvi And the 33 for Reinheart who doesn’t make that trade ? Boston was asking way more from Edmonton and Chiarelli told them to forget about it and so he should .The Oilers ended up with McDavid Calgary can have Hamilton ,they are going to need him and more to shut down this Oilers team in a few years .

    • Cheap Shot Charlie

      If you look at it the other way…we got Reinhart for Perron and the 33rd. Is that a deal you’d make?

      Calgary got Hamilton and will need him. They didn’t get McDavid but they won’t need him. Our defense didn’t get any better with this trade. And we can’t draft a prospect like Marco Roy tomorrow with the 33rd.

      This reeks of more of the same old. I’m not impressed. Especially since Green admitted he hasn’t seen Reinhart play in the AHL. *idiot*

  • BlazingSaitls

    At the end of the day this draft gave Chiarelli every opportunity to put his stamp on the franchise.

    MacT & Howsen would have drafted McDavid.
    MacT & Howsen would have given up their draft resources for Griffin.

    Today Oilers fans got a gut check. Even with McDavid it still hurts.

    #ManUpChiarelli!

  • Great day for McDavid today and that’s awesome for us long suffering fans of the Oilers.

    Welcome to Oiler ountry Connor. I look forward to seeing you at Prospect Camp starting Monday… even if thru the media…lol.

    Now Griffin Reinhart may have been a surprise and costing the 16th and 33rd…but he has been an awesome junior player for the Oil Kings, a Memorial Cup Champion to boot… he’s just learning the pro ranks and just turned only 21 yrs old… and he got bumped by vets of Leddy and Boychuk coming to the Isle.

    He has some learning to do but I feel good/okay with the deal, especially while knowing that Jim Johnson is working with the D this new era of Oiler hockey. Reinhart and the Oilers will benefit.

    Reinhart is big, can be nasty, can be that top 2 to 4 pairing stay home guy and he will learn from Ference and/or Fayne too. The Oilers got a pretty good prospect who is excellently big enough to fight and play hard in the big bad Western Conference. He is what the team needed to stat getting next to Klefbom and Nurse.

    Last but not least… is that over the past years the Oilers have screwed up far worse… like not picking Doan, picking Bonsignore at #4 over-all, choosing Marc Pouliot, Hulbig, Henrich, Nash, Plante, Stadjuhar, etc.

    Welcome to the Oilers Griffin… May you succeed and protect Connor with Gazdic/Nurse in the coming seasons….and oh yeah…Lets go win a Stanley Cup too.

  • Ever the Optimist

    Maybe i just don’t understand the thought process here.

    We now have 4 good to top prospects on the left side and no veterans there to protect any of them. While on the right side we have no prospects of note.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Jonathan your hilarious, your article implies its a positive one yet you basically state that its a terrible trade and you wouldn’t make it and in your “other thoughts” you proceed to pile on more reasons how awful the deal was.
    The oilers want to move forward and live bodies are more useful than magic bean draft picks. I thought we are supposed to be trying now to get better not in 4 years when 18 year old late round draft picks will be ready if ever. I sometimes despair of the supposed experts but then most blog sites are full of them. Ask Boston fans if they are happy with 3 18 year olds instead of Hamilton.

  • Chris.

    Bob Green hasn’t watched Griffon play since he turned pro.

    I haven’t watched Griffon play in years.

    I doubt anyone on this thread has watched Reinhart play since he left Edmonton…

    So we are all (Chiarelli included) just guessing whether or not we got fleeced.

    I bet the guys who traded Griffon probably watched him play a lot… but I digress 😉

    What is not up for debate: Reinhart doesn’t play goal, is not yet an established NHLer, and doesn’t shoot right. Even if we aren’t getting completely fleeced… I’m confused… Why make THIS move?

    • Randaman

      I don’t know, but it’s beginning to sound like the ol’ “saw him good/fall in love with our junior players” syndrome that was responsible for the Moroz debacle. I thought the oilers were supposed to be smarter than that now. It’s a new dawn, remember?

  • Randaman

    Honestly I don’t think PC was going to meet the overly unrealistic expectations of this fan base anyway.

    Damned if he does or doesn’t.

    Typical Oiler fans. We are starting to sound like Leafs fans and that really saddens me

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I can’t say I like the trade…too much for an unproven commodity.

    My next question for JW is what will happen (as far as you know obviously) with Dougie Hamilton and Giordano and cap issue/flexibility in Cowtown?

    I hear Gio wants 9 million per after next season where he will be a UFA….and if Hamilton wants 7-8 million, that doesn’t leave much for the rest of the team, plus Hiller only having one year left as well. (I hate to be asking about Flames success on this site on the same day we drafted a phenom) but Hamilton going to Calgary rather than here has me rattled, and then this Reinhardt debacle adds to it.

  • Dwayne Roloson 35

    Overpay . I like Reinhardt but we gave up too much, I was worried as soon as I saw Mac T and Howson at the draft table. The ol boys club have gotten into Chia’s kitchen ! Please run these 2 out of town asap.

  • Serious Gord

    Defensemen take time to develop, only in rare instances do they step right into the NHL. Reinhart has 3 years of development in him already; he’s got solid pedigree, talent, and leadership skills, and he is still a highly promising prospect. Top pairing defensemen are not readily available.

    Granted, Barzal is an interesting prospect, but the Oilers are now fairly deep at centre and simultaneously very weak on defense, so from a team standpoint this trade makes a lot of sense. As a prospect, Kylington is a complete roll-the-dice crap shoot. Drafting an 18-year-old defenseman like Kylington and waiting for him to develop (when he could just as easily bust) doesn’t make as much sense as trading for Reinhart, who is much more NHL ready and with fewer question marks. It doesn’t make much sense particularly when your current roster has glaring defensive holes in it, and fans have completely lost their patience with the team. Reinhart will become an NHL defenseman, likely a top pairing guy, and he presents a more immediate return in an area of huge need for this team.

    Chiarelli needs to turn this ship around, and Reinhart puts him much closer to doing that. Over drafting a couple of 18-year-olds in Barzal and Kylington, this deal makes some sense.

  • Art Vandelay

    if it was just 16 id be be happy with the trade. But throwing in 33 seems like a reach, i really hope kylington is still available when we pick in 2nd round

      • Art Vandelay

        Haha dont get me wrong i actually like this trade alot, and i agree with you. Reinhart is probably a certainty for top 4 nhl duty the next 10 years at least.

        I was just hoping oilers would be able to hold onto number 33 throughout negotiaton’s amd deal the other 2nd rounder. I think kylington is an underated propect and will be a 2nd round steal. just my opinion

  • Serious Gord

    It is hilarious how much this fanbase thinks they know about hockey. You must all be gm’s in training hey? Keep living vicariously through your local sports team and pretend your opinion matters…

    I’ll be over here in my corner recognizing the obvious – that the Oilers made a wicked deal today.

    1. Barzal and Roy (or whoever) wont be helping any NHL team for at the very least a couple years – apparently many fans want to make this the neverending rebuild

    2. The Oilers just added an ogre with advanced hockey IQ to their severely lacking back end.

    3. Reinhart passes the eye test with flying colors. If you watched the memorial cup last year and didn’t notice him you are hockey blind

    4. The time is now, no more building for the future. Reinhart is by no means the final piece, but he drastically changes the look of the team (which 16 and 33 would not have done).

    As it stands, we are a goalie and a #1 dman away from having one hell of a team!

  • dougtheslug

    It’s not difficult to understand why Boston would deal Hamilton to Calgary and not Edmonton, even if the Oilers’ would have offered more. The Charelli factor. It’s isn’t Charelli’s fault, that is just the way it is in hockey.

    On Reinhart, yes for a 16th, but not plus a 33rd. Maybe a 16th and a 3rd round, but even that is a stretch, We know about Oilers’ bold moves, e.g. MacT. This move was closer to a dumb MacT move.

    The honeymoon we enjoyed so much with all the good luck has ended. It was great while it lasted: new CEO, new GM, McDavid, an actual NHL coach, progress on the new downtown arena.

    Still missing: an NHL goalie, missing two top D. Still haven’t got bigger and tougher to compete in the Pacific Division. With the exception of McDavid, who can’t carry the team on his shoulders, the on ice personnel didn’t improve today.

    But wait, the NHL entry draft continues through tomorrow and free agency opens July 1.

    • Chris.

      Chiarelli’s performance today was so underwhelming I feel less optimistic as we move through the rest of the draft, free agency, and eventually camp.

      Lowe, Howson, Tambellini, MacT, Messier, Katz, the Zamboni Driver, or any other of the bunglers who have had their fingerprints on this rebuild could have drafted McDavid with the first pick and then traded too much for a former Oil King that they have not bothered to keep tabs on.

  • Randaman

    Could have had Svetchnikov and a chance at Lack or Talbot ….

    Instead we got ….

    …. WAIT FOR IT ….

    a 5/6 D with mobility issues, who could just as likely turn out to be Tuebert / Plant as Alzner / Coburn.

    SERIOUSLY, Green just failed as a Player Development lead, and Chiarelli, made his first mistake.

    • Connor Snipes

      Well said. 33rd might have been too much for sure. Maybe Pete has a lead on a decent UFA goalie because we sure aren’t getting Lack or Talbot for 57+….

      Griff is a heads up player for sure but I was hoping if we used #16 in a deal, we we would be targeting an up and coming mid 20s D-man ready for more ice time.
      We’ll see what happens but if I have to judge it right now, this deal feels like a slight miss usage of assets…Snow obviously said 16 and 57 wasn’t good enough to Pete. But then I loved how Snow flipped our 33rd right away to get another player they wanted…damn. Just added to that feeling that we paid too much.

  • Serious Gord

    Man there are quite a few whiners who are never happy I see.

    Reinhart to me is better for the team than Nikitin, Aulie, maybe Schultz already…he cheaper and he comes from a great family history background.

    He is of an excellent size at 6’4″/217 lbs and he is tough, a stay at home drive the other teams away guy who can block shots and he can pass the puck good enough to the forwards.

    He has won a Memorial Cup and is just 21 yrs old. Best of all is that he is closer to being NHL ready than a possible 18 yr old draft pick who could flop easily….

    The Bruins would not deal with Chiarelli and they wanted Nurse to boot. Sather wants too much for Talbot an so do the Canucks with Lack…thus far anyways. The Oilers now have a top team set of centres coming into play now that Connor and Draisaitl are ready to be NHLers….so even forward picks like Barzal or Merkley were’t going to do any good there…. especially with also Yakimov in the wings also.

    There are more trades to be made and there are 7 more picks left for the Oilers so stop the whining and lets wait another day first. With MacDavid and Reinhart becoming Oilers…this was a great day.

    • Reg Dunlop

      How is a 21 year old with 8 games under his belt better than NHL veterans? He is cheap for a reason. NHL pedigree? Like Keith Gretzky and Jean Potvin? How sure are you that Draisaitl is NHL ready? Just what are we using as trade bait? Some of the remaining draft picks? Do they have much value? As you said, they could flop easily and, sadly, they are out of the top 50. Waiting another day will change nothing, we will remain a bottom 5 team next year. And after we sign a free agent goalie and an over-priced defender we will be close enough to the salary cap to smell it. Not whining, just being realistic.

      On the bright side, at least Calgary didn’t get Lucic so he won’t be molesting the young oilers quite as often.

      • Double Dees

        I agree with your main point. But your bright side is incorrect. We will play the Kings and the Flames five times each this year. Milan’s injury potential is the only thing that will keep him away from us.

  • hagar

    too rich for me

    #33 and Marincin would have been my offer.

    NYI was in weakness they had NO PICKS – NONE. Surprised there was no other players involved.

    BUT I very much like the player . . .hate the deal.

  • Anton CP

    Eh, as the article you linked to alludes to, it is a risk worth taking. Look at the majority of players on that list, they don’t have the draft pedigree of Reinhart, yes it is possible all those scouts were wrong, or that he simply couldn’t live up to the pressure. But as the title of the article says, it’s too early to write him off. I am ver cautiously optimistic about this trade, but I also feel like you may be linking us loyal fans to this post three years from now, saying ‘I told you so’.

  • Chris.

    This looks more like a Mact/Howson/Green deal.I wish the Oilers had just fired MacT and Howson,this management team is starting to look like the same old story.

  • Zarny

    This is exactly the type of trade the Oilers needed to make. Only time will tell if it’s for the right player.

    “His skating will need some work” is certainly concerning in today’s NHL.

  • Anton CP

    Case of Reinhart, it is not about if he is already better than more than half of Oilers D-core (that isn’t saying much, really) but if he is worth the 2 picks to get him. The D men drafted behind Reinhart were Morgan Reilly, Hampus Lindholm, Matthew Dumba, Jacob Trouba, Cody Ceci, and Olli Maatta. It is not the case of which pick that Reinhart got selected, either Islanders were terrible at drafting D or developing D. I could see if the Oilers shipped one pick for Reinhart but 2 picks? If Reinhart has a upside then Islanders won’t need to trade for Leddy and Boychuk to boost their D.

  • Double Dees

    My concerns about Chiarelli continue. He was fired in Boston for a reason and it looks like he left a big mess behind….

    I see what Calgary paid for Hamilton and how quickly Buffalo is ready to go forward with solid deals and I am concerned…..

  • Double Dees

    And if Reinhart turns out to be a top 4 dman for the next 5-7 yrs…this trade looks genius….the draft is risk reward. Go look at the 2012 draft. All the dman taken after GR are starting to get opportunity. GR is looking for this opportunity in ED cuz NYI signed boy chuck and leddy. Otherwise he would’ve played NHL games.

    I don’t get how ppl are so rash to knock GR. it’s hilarious!

    Ppl need to chill.

    Like seriously.

    Just let the chips play out. Nobody knows!!!!!