If my math is correct, there’s no way the Oilers will start the season with Darnell Nurse and Griffin Reinhart in the opening night lineup. Ahead of the dynamic duo are veterans (Andrej Sekera, Mark Fayne, Nikita Nikitin, Andrew Ference, Eric Gryba) and some youth (Oscar Klefbom, Justin Schultz). In the conversation with them will be Brandon Davidson, but when it comes to the two emerging defensemen it’s only a matter of time. Who gets here first?
#Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli expects to see Reinhart in NHL this season. “He’s ready to play & he’s going to be a very good part of our D.”
— Chris Wescott (@TheChrisWescott) June 27, 2015
If you’re going to find a great spot for Reinhart, it’s probably third pairing beside a veteran partner. My guess is a guy like Mark Fayne (who is probably needed up the depth chart) would be a perfect fit. I think he’s a solid young defenseman with size, foot speed, the ability
to pass and make a pass, protect the puck, win battles and play with an
edge. His calm feet may carry the day for the Oilers in big games, but for now establishing himself at the NHL level seems a big enough chore. I’m not sure Reinhart sees a lot of PP time but he did have that gear in junior and last season in the AHL.
If we’re estimating Reinhart’s role as an NHL player, I think he’ll receive substantial EV and PK minutes, closer to a shut down type than it may have appeared on draft day.
Grant McCagg, TSN: Strengths: Very
few 6-4 blueliners can skate and handle the puck like Reinhart, and
those attributes alone will intrigue lots of scouts. Has a hard point
shot that often finds its mark, good passing skills. Weaknesses: Does
not always play with an abundance of passion and drive. Could be more
assertive physically, and more consistent in his effort.
Since he was drafted, I’d bet the scouting report would talk more about the physical aspect of the game and less about the offense. This shouldn’t surprise, most of the offense collected by defenders comes from power-play minutes. My guess is that we see Reinhart a few times this year and that he’s in the NHL to stay by the deadline or sooner.
One area that may benefit Reinhart: He has one year in the AHL and Nurse turns pro this fall. The natural progression would be for Reinhart to move up first, and if that holds then the onus will be on Nurse at TC.
BJ MacDonald, Central Scouting: “He’s got nice,
soft hands for a big defenseman, can run the power play and has a big
shot — both the wrist shot and slapper. He moves the puck as well as
anyone in this year’s draft and I like the way he thinks the game. He’s
got a nice pro style that will make for an easier transition to the
This time last year, I asked Michael Parkatti from Boys on the Bus about Nurse and received a surprising (to me) answer:
Michael Parkatti, summer 2014: “All you can really
ask of your prospects is that they progress. I think it’s pretty obvious
he progressed year over year. It’s probably a function of the
opportunity he was given, he was playing behind some older players
during his draft season. It’s good to see that he performed pretty well
when given the chance. In terms of his chances, you have to look at the
depth chart and think he has a shot here.” (Lowdown show)
That’s an interesting take from a guy who traditionally slow plays the prospects (pretty much any advanced math study will show you the plodding development time line for young D). Nurse progressed even more in 2014-15 and is now reportedly at 218 pounds. He’s also extremely mobile, I mean it’s impressive to see how quickly he gets around the ice.
Peter Chiarelli talks about Nurse: “His game has got a lot more
structure and he’s really come a long way from what I’ve seen. I really like his compete and we’re
trying to build from the back end a bit in Edmonton and he’s a good fit
with us right now.” Source
This time next season I’ll bet we’re talking about both men as NHL blue for the next many years. This fall, the contest for NHL employment between these two young men will be fascinating to watch. The winner? The Edmonton Oilers and their fans.