ABOUT GRIFFIN

The Edmonton Oilers recalled Brad Hunt on Boxing Day, raising some eyebrows around Oilers Nation. Griffin Reinhart, acquired during the summer under significant fanfare, remains on the farm. The nature of the fanbase nowadays is to defend an opinion arrived at during the early portion of the news breaking and defend it for years—it is (apparently) the hill to die on. Let’s try something different, by having a look at the player, what he brings, why he wasn’t recalled on Boxing Day, and why he could be an important addition to an Oilers playoff team.

Brad Hunt has many gifts, but defensive prowess is not a strength. Peter Chiarelli called Hunt to the majors for his hammer on the power play, and Todd McLellan will have to live with the defensive errors (or not) as the days go down.

In real terms, Griffin Reinhart was never in the conversation for the job. Despite having a good shot from the point and being a more substantial defensive player than Hunt, Reinhart isn’t going to be a power-play specialist as an NHL player.

My take is that Hunt was recalled for a specific reason: His shot from the point. Reinhart is a more qualified defenseman today and into the future.

DEFENDING TURF

One of my least favorite conversations on the internet is what I call defending turf. Make a claim, follow it, hammer those who disagreed if things work out. Rinse, repeat. It tends to end conversations and obscure useful avenues of discussion.

In the interest of full disclosure, I liked Reinhart as an Oil King, as a draft prospect, and was fine with his being acquired by the Oilers (the organization scratched an itch). Here is what I wrote about it in the hours after the deal.

In terms of value, Peter Chiarelli gave up too much. Reinhart—if
everything works out—projects as a second-pairing guy and the price paid
was dear, too dear. Oilers fans will grind themselves into a fine white
powder on this issue, I choose not to do it. Two things are absolutely
true:

  • Griffin Reinhart is a substantial prospect who can fill a role
    inside Edmonton’s top 6D when he matures, perhaps as early as this
    season.

  • Edmonton gave up two picks in a deep draft for a prospect who—while
    more advanced than the draft picks—is unlikely to play a similar kind of
    feature role upon arrival.

The Oilers paid dearly but were glad to do it in order to
secure a prospect they knew very well. There’s no real way to argue it
was a good deal in terms of value but the new regime believes Reinhart
is worth the risk. The Edmonton Oilers traded for a need. This should not be news. 

I still feel that way. He is more of a shut down type than a two-way defender, although GR does possess puck-moving qualities. He was a fantastic defenseman in junior, he is in the second year of his entry-level deal, and developing as a player.

ELLIOTTE FRIEDMAN

In today’s 30 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman talked about the Reinhart situation:

When the Oilers recalled Brad Hunt to aid their ailing blue-line, fans wondered, “Why not Griffin Reinhart?’ on Twitter.

You get the sense Edmonton believes very strongly Reinhart needs AHL
time. He’ll be 22 next month and has fewer than 80 games of AHL
experience. The Hunt call-up indicates this is something the
organization wants to commit to.

People have to get out of the mindset that it’s a failure if a young
player has to go to the AHL. Same goes for Adam Lowry, just recalled
when Mark Scheifele was injured. “We have no doubt where he will get
to,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said of Lowry last week. Source

I would slightly disagree with Friedman, who has more inside knowledge than anyone this side of Bob McKenzie (so I aware of the folly of my position). That said, I think Reinhart is in the minors today for four reasons:

  • He (and Darnell Nurse) are the two defenders who can be sent down without waivers. A moot point now, but that was the reason Reinhart was sent down in the first place.
  • Edmonton needs him to be meaner more consistently. I have seen GR dismantle opponents, so it is there, but that edge is not an every night item—this trip to the minors came with some things to work on.
  • The Oilers, rightly or wrongly, feel Nikita Nikitin has some trade value at the deadline. I can only assume there is a market—perhaps Chicago—and that is a roster spot that could shake loose at some point up to the trade deadline.
  • The most recent need was for a specialty item.

So, I agree with Mr. Friedman there is an element in needing more AHL time, but I suspect it is a short term plan. I think Reinhart is a good bet for NHL action close to and after the trade deadline, with an eye to getting him into game and gaining valuable experience. I have little doubt he is part of Edmonton’s future, along with Andrej Sekera, Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom and Brandon Davidson.

DISCUSSION

Almost all of the discussion of this player quickly erodes into ‘this is where I called it’ with link provided and that is pretty much the end of the conversation. That is fine, but it dead-ends a worthwhile discussion. So, I am hoping we can have a chat about this player, putting aside the following:

  • The Oilers love Oil Kings too much
  • The asset cost was too much

And discuss the following:

  • If speed is an issue, what evidence do we have? Where is there credible evidence that foot speed is a problem with this player? Is it a problem similar to David Musil’s speed issue? Can he play defense in the modern game with his current speed? 
  • Is he making progress at the pro level as a shutdown defender? Megan Richardson framed the defensive acumen very well here. Do we have evidence he is progressing?
  • Does the fact Reinhart is LH make this trade difficult to justify as a constructive addition that addresses need?

PETER CHIARELLI TALKS REINHART

  • ”We’ve got a kid like Griffin Reinhart, who I would like to have up here, playing. He is starting to, his game has been quite good down there, so we’ve got some pieces in place, just to get them all here at once is part of my whole view.” Source
    • Gongshowallday

      I have been saying this ever since they picked him up.

      BAD BAD move.

      Too slow, no foot speed, poor under pressure with the puck, no brains, does not have the skill to step up from junior to any significant role in the NHL.

      Career AHL’er.

      Oilers need to be smarter in the draft.

      Clearly this is their issue.

      By the way. Trade Eberle and Nuge now to get rid of their contracts.

      The more I see this team play, the more I know Mac T and Lowe know nothing about hockey.

    • 24% body fat

      GR is in sunny California because of his waiver (or not) status. As a pure shut down (second pairing) D he should hit his stride in the next year or two. I would hold my opinion of trade won or lost for at least one more year as defencemen mature more slowly than forwards.

      You can bet on many more high pick forwards turning into lost draft picks than GR over the next couple of seasons.

    • bazmagoo

      Keep Griffin down in the AHL for this season and next unless he’s made big improvements and earns an NHL spot without question. We need value contracts moving forward and Griffin could very well be one.

    • Tikkanese

      It was a bad move for many reasons.

      1) The price was too steep.

      2) The Oilers needed a top pairing RHD, period. Still do.

      3) GR’s projected to be a top 4D? The Oilers already had Klefbom & Nurse projected for the left side future, both with more upside than GR.

      4)”Oh but he can play RD” is what some of you’ll argue. Why bother with that? They don’t play at 100% capabilities on their off side. That’s been proven time and again over many years now. I’m sure there is the odd case of it working but it will be very rare. D playing their off side really only works on the PP. Sekera is also a Left shot playing on his off side. He’s already shown this year he’s better on his natural left side. The few games he’s had on his natural left side, he was paired with Fayne. He made Fayne look great in their few games together on their natural sides.

      5) A couple of you have said “They traded for the present to make the Oilers better!”. How do you quantify that? His 8GP NHL? His reported average play in the AHL last season? The Oilers already had a lot of LHD. Sekera, Klefbom, Nurse, Davidson, NN, Ference and even Hunt. Present or future arguments really make no sense.

      Unless PC had plans to move one of Klefbom or Nurse (I sure hope not!), acquiring GR really made no sense for this season or for the future. I hope GR proves me wrong but it didn’t look like it then and still doesn’t look like it will any time soon either.

    • chickenStew

      Ya the optics of the Reinhart deal do not look good right now. But typical of many oiler fans …a lot of you are Sooooooo impatient. You want the payoff immediately. I get it . It’s extremely difficult to b patient and to keep hearing that word almost as if it’s being preached to us. However, as much as it sucks we need to give this player some time before we can say without a doubt that the trade was a bust. It’s too soon to know how this plays out. Of course we’re all a little dissapointed GR hasnt had an immediate impact with the oilers….I’m sure CHIA is more dissapointed than any of us at this stage. But if we’re being honest…it’s just too soon to know how this goes. Time will tell friends.plenty of late bloomers in pro sports..so relax.Remember connor Is back soon !