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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  • Double Dees

    And for those caught up with lack and talbot…there’s no guarantee they’ll be worth a 2nd OR that they will stick around after the one yr left on their deals.

    They could walk. One and done.

    Hamilton was overhyped. Don’t get me wrong he’s good. But everyone got too caught up with him.

    • Anton CP

      I am not too concerned about Hamilton to Calgary to be honest. Calgary will be in cap hell after next season with many players will be either RFA or UFA. I don’t know what kind of role that Hamilton will be in with Flames, they have Giordano, Russell, Brodie, and Wideman to cover top 2 pairings and they will be chained by Smid’s 4m (that was a great trade by MacT after the fact) for 2 more years.

      Hamilton is not overhyped, however Flames have a very little need of Hamilton (even they have persuaded him hard from the get go). It has a very high chance for Hamilton turns into another Bouwmeester experiment.

      • Anton CP

        Calgary currently has $27 million in total contracts for 2016/17. They have the ultimate cap freedom.

        Their young corps of Monahan, Gaudreau, Brodie and Hamilton will get the contracts they deserve, and there will be room for all the support players. There’s even space for Giordano or Wideman, if they want to sign one of them.

        Calgary looks set for a decade of high-level hockey. Pete better catch us up…

  • Dino

    Some NHL defensemen that struggled in their early years at the AHL level:

    1. Duncan Keith:25 points/75GP; 26 points/79GP (AHL)
    2. Brent Burns: 27 points/ 73GP (AHL)
    3. Ryan Mcdonaugh: 8 points/ 38 GP (AHL)
    4. Zdeno Chara: 13 points/48GP; 4 points/23GP (AHL)

    These are all players that ironically I have seen trade proposals for at one point or another through-out the past few months.

    Now we finally have a chance to develop a young, talented D with tons of upside and potential and people manage to find a way to complain about it. I think Reinhart, will be the exact player the Oilers need as a 2nd pairing man for many years to come.

    The Oilers now have Mclellan and his new assistants who very much played a role in the development of young defensemen such as Burns and Vlasic in SJ into todays top D-men. Fans should understand that trading for these types of players is extremely difficult and rare. As many of you have noticed, top teams usually draft their top d-men, its very rare to get one through trades and even more rare through free-agency.

    Right now what the Oilers have in their lap is opportunity… The opportunity to develop a top 10 overall d-man within their system with their other assets. A d-man with size and grit, vision and some offensive potential. I think fans will soon see why grabbing Reinhart for 2 draft picks is a steal for the Oilers. Good job Chiarelli!

  • This trade is payment for past sins. Apart from Darnel Nurse the last time the Oilers drafted a D in the first round was 1998. It should be a shock to no one why we don’t have any 1st pairing D because we didn’t draft any.

    I’m nervous about GR. He appears to be a depreciating asset, however I still think this was a good trade. Mostly because it tells me Chiarelli is focused the deficiencies of the TEAM a not just acquiring maximum assets.

    Now is the time to turn this into a team.

    • Bandwagon jumper

      Last night was amazing it’s my birthday and I bleed oil. It’s an obsession but great one. A player’s will to play for a team is huge everyone think about being in a job they are not comfortable in Griffin will smash it and if not we got Connor ducking mcdavid!!!!!!!

  • Reg Dunlop

    How did such a positive day end up being so negative with this one trade? I think Chiarelli blew it but I hope I’m wrong. 16 and 33 in a deep draft is a steep price to pay for someone Bob McKenzie says “won’t be a dominant defenceman but will be a defenceman.” Brian Burke and Cam Neely must be high-fiving each other. Payback is a b_tch.

  • nuge2drai

    Despite all the rosy reactions to this deal by the local pundits, it stinks. This organization has over-valued Oil Kings at every turn. They vastly over-drafted Moroz and Ewanyk. They surrendered an NHL calibre defenseman for Brossoit. Now they have surrendered two terrific assets for a Reinhart.

    Griffin is a prospect whose potential is anywhere from Colten Teubert to Braydon Coburn. Value equality is only achievable if Reinhart becomes Coburn.

    The monumental risk of this deal is only made worse by the history of over-valuing Oil King alumni. Chiarelli has moved into the poor standing I hold all the recent Oiler managers. Bob Green is looking the buffoon. If Griffin works out as a good 2nd pairing player, I’ll forgive Pete. I don’t know about the rest of you, but Pete’s in my doghouse.

  • hagar

    You want sure things? Good luck! It should be perfectly clear by now that the oilers don’t have the assets that anyone wants to trade for, without getting rid of the precious “core”.

    Suck it up you unrealistic princesses!! PC made a BOLD move, and he thinks it was the right one!!

    The sad thing is all you haters are now going to hope griffin sucks simply because you say he will. Pathetic.

    • Dino

      Boldness is not a substitute for success. Massive risks are only worthy of credit when they are successful. Pete could have taken two good, young players and traded them two years from now for a “sure thing.”

      Speaking as an Oiler fan and a “hater,” I hope to see Griffin help to form a strong defensive unit for multiple Oiler championships. See, I can be angry and a fan… crazy

      Change teams? Is that something you would do when you weren’t happy with your team?

  • Double Dees

    Just a horrible trade. I suddenly have little faith the D and G will get fixed up the way I hoped. The F’ing head scout didn’t even watch him this year! And with so much value still on the table too… what a joke. I would have much rather done what the NYI (draft Barzal and trade up for Beauviller)

    • Double Dees

      Bob green drafted GR and helped develop him. He knows more about GR then anybody thru oil kings days. he knows him.

      And stop whining.

      So u would want another small skilled forward who inside injury and scored only 12 goals over a dman who still hasn’t been given a fair shot in the NHL but potentially can be a great d man.

    • Double Dees

      I agree. It’s comical how this organization does business.

      CHIARELLI: “Can Reinhart anchor our defence?”

      GREEN: “Well, uhh, I haven’t seen him play this past year. But if memory serves me, boy was he good in junior!”

      CHIARELLI: “Are you sure, these draft picks are mighty valuable.”

      GREEN: “Yeah he was good – the last time I saw him that is. I believe in him.”

      CHIARELLI: “Good then! I’m sold!”

      GREEN: mutters to himself: “I hope I’m f__king right.”

  • Double Dees

    Not going to lie. I was expecting Bettman to say Travis Hamonic. Once he said Griffin Rienhart I was waiting for him to say Jaraslav Halak or Ryan Pulock

  • hagar

    This site is so draining. I am not sure that 4 mcdavids would get anything positive on the go in your minds.

    Give the freakin new gm at least half a day to do his thing before claiming all is lost.

    You negative nancies have backed this pathetic team for the last 24 years of failure… can we please just try letting the very first real change since the 90s do something?

    This isn’t the same as all the other years. We need to just stop all the BS and support the team knowing it is different.

    Maybe they keep sucking, but at least we know it isn’t the same reason.

    • Anton CP

      To be honest, the track record of Chiarelli wasn’t very promising but it is something refreshing to get someone outside in. Chiarelli is still better GM than MacT but the first trade he made doesn’t make too much sense. So many quality D-men drafted after Reinhart and have already contributing to teams, if Reinhart cannot make it in Islanders, what kind of chance will he has against bigger meaner Western Conference?

      • hagar

        You will notice my comments are not praising his moves, I am only supporting them.

        Griffin is now ours like it or not.. I can’t imagine finding out my new hockey location, and minutes later, finding the fore most scribe making a post about the negatives of myself, followed by well over 50 percent of the fans calling me a busted waste of trade value.

        I am super pissed off that a guy that obviously has the talent somewhere in his being, needs to listen to a plethora of dick head arm chair gms say how bad he is, before even booking a flight.

  • Anton CP

    Thanks Jonathan
    Your choice to analyze top 15 picks is arbitrary and is skewed by the likes of Tuebert and Plante who were picked between 11 and 15 and were busts.
    Do the analysis with top 10 picks or top 5, which are closer to what Reinhart was at 4.

    • Anton CP

      Not a lot D-men drafted within top 5 picks though, here’s the list of last 10 years D drafted at top 5:

      05: Jack Johnson (3rd)

      06: Erik Johnson (1st)

      07: Thomas Hickey (4th), Karl Alzner (5th)

      08: Drew Doughty (2nd), Zach Bogosian (3rd), Alex Pietrangelo (4th), Luke Schenn (5th)

      09: Victor Hedman (2nd)

      10: Erik Gudbranson (3rd)

      11: Adam Larsson (4th)

      12: Ryan Murray (2nd), GRIFFIN REINHART (4th), Morgan Reilly (5th)

      13: Seth Jones (4th)

      14: Aaron Ekblad (1st)

      Hickey, Alzner, Bogosian, Schenn and Gudbranson are a few examples that failed to live up to their expectations. Those are 5 names from 11 players drafted prior to Reinhart’s year. Almost half of those high picks D-men, a high draft position does not means a good player. A few top tier D-men like Subban, Keith, Weber, Byfuglien, Giordano, Josi, and Yandle were all drafted (or undrafted) outside of first round. Draft position means very little toward D-men.

      The whole thing about the trade is not about Reinhart, it is more about can Oilers do better than Reinhart with those picks? Peoples were expecting a proven D-man traded from those picks, not another unproven young “potential” D-man which Oilers are already have a bunch with.

      • Wow, that is a surprising high rate of under achievers. Im curious to know how that stacks up to other positions.

        Re: Klefbom, Nurse, Schultz, Marincin, & Reinhart – Its not at all a foregone conclusion who these players are. They are still developing. They all pass the eye-test as capable athletes and have a track record of success in their short careers. Oilers ought to take the development of this group very seriously and with great care. I believe there are a few winners in this group.

  • billythebullet

    If our defense all develop and some rebound to live up to their potential we have this as the future blue?
    Nurse – Reinhart
    Klefbom – Fayne
    Marincin – Davidson

  • billythebullet

    I will admit that my first reaction was overpayment, especially in light of what Calgary did. He was playing behind a pretty solid top 6 in NY though and I’m willing to say that he will make the team out of camp. He’s big and strong and a great competitor and if he turns out to be a #4 dman or better then it might be a decent trade.
    I was/ is a huge fan of Barzal and was super excited when Boston didn’t take him but at the end of the day I suppose I can take solace in the fact that we Didnt add another small forward that this organization can fall in love with.

  • Klima's Mullet

    Leave my brother alone. He is a super star defenseman, Barrzell can go to hell. I would love to see anyone of you idiots in a room with my brother, he would break your legs and feed it to the dogs. Your worse then
    Toronto fans.

  • Klima's Mullet

    GR is a left shot Jeff Petry type…size,great wheels, good shot, terrific hands. Oil win this trade big time. I am a bit surprised that many are criticizing the deal. The Oil left Day 1 of the draft with a #1 centre and a top 4 D.

    • camdog

      I agree with your assessment.

      The organisational fail was losing Jeff Petry at the trade deadline for a bag of pucks. Draft picks and prospects are nice, however they don’t substitute for real NHL defence man that your team has spent the better part of 5 years developing. Hopefully it only takes a couple of years for Griffin to be NHL ready (real NHL ready, not Oiler ready). I’m just glad Mact isn’t our GM any more because I think he would consider this being ahead, although they are still 2 steps behind

  • Chad88

    Its almost as if the Boo Birds were hoping for something to be negative about and this trade for picks was what they were waiting for. GR will be fine and will be part of the D for years to come.

    The Oil’s management is not done yet. This was just the one move (good or bad depending on your viewpoint). As another poster stated, we are better today then yesterday. We have to remember just how much work this team needed in it’s overhauling.

    Personally, I do not have any real problem with this deal. The arrow is pointing in the right direction.

    This armchair GM’n is easy stuff.

  • BigMcD

    The 16th pick was very coveted and talked about leading up to this draft. I really thought Edmonton would package something and the result would be a top teir DMAN. G.R. Might be a top 4 , but not the 1 or 2 DMAN that the fans were hoping for.! We just wanted a little more.

  • Bandwagon jumper

    Bold moves 2.0. Epic fail.

    I am tired of hearing about “potential” it was time to see some “proven” NHL talent.

    And those picks were the key to obtaining proven NHL talent, now all that is left are the kids. Which kid is Chiapet going to have to trade to get some talent?

    At least he hasn’t screwed up McSaviour, yet.

  • Bandwagon jumper

    Terrible trade for Alex Plante 2.0. He is a 5-6 defenceman and Barzal will be a second line center imo. This trade has MacT and Howson written all over it. This is what happens when to treat the cancer without cutting it out.

  • Chad88

    What pisses me off about the trade is all the sour fans crying and getting mad about it.

    It’s bolder than anything we have seen from our last 2 GMS.

    He may not be proven but it beats 7 mill Dougie, it also beats 3 picks plus Darnell Nurse.

    They wanted to get a d-man and they did in the bug GR.

    We should be excited about change. But here you all are b***hing about this our b***hing about coaching staff. You are seriously the disease to this incredible fan base.

    My personal opinion on the trade? I love it! Given this draft he still would’ve gone in the top 10 I bet!

  • Anton CP

    I hated this deal, especially with who’s left on the board. The Oilers acquired an asset that’s kind of suspect in terms of how impactful he’ll be at a pro level. So instead of acquiring Matt Barzal (right shot center, very good offensive skill, 2 way player) and Jeremy Roy (a right shot puck mover who skates at a high level and has good hockey IQ) at 16 and 33 they get a defenceman that may play in their top 6 or more likely winds up like a Colten Teubert. New regime seems a lot like the old one so far… yuck.

  • Anton CP

    Our trade for Reinhart was definitely a surprise coming from Chiarelli . Back when he was drafted we would have loved to get him . Maybe better late than never ? I was hoping for B.Carlo and Braidwood with those picks , but Reinhart might prove better than the two of them , and also appears ready to contribute as early as this year . Still have rest of draft to go today and who knows what that will bring . The shocker was Flames getting Hamilton and us settling on Reinhart , thus our acquisition seems minor in comparison , for now at least Our acquisition seems more like moderate risk -moderate reward . It’s just the first , I suspect , of other trades coming on the defensive side of things for us. Will he be part of a solid base or maybe even top four in time ?