WWYDW: Griffin Reinhart


Probably the single-most controversial trade of Peter Chiarelli’s tenure as Edmonton Oilers general manager was his decision at the 2015 Draft to deal first- and second-round draft picks to the New York Islanders in exchange for defensive prospect Griffin Reinhart. It was a contentious move the moment it was announced, and a 2015-16 campaign split between the AHL and NHL has done nothing to quiet the argument.

The question now is what the Oilers should do with Reinhart. In this week’s edition of What Would You Do Wednesday, we turn that question over to our readers.

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The difficulty with Reinhart is two-fold: contract and ability.

Because Reinhart was a fourth overall pick, his entry-level deal came with all kinds of bonuses, with NHL Numbers listing his cap hit at $3.213 million. For most teams that wouldn’t matter much, as Reinhart isn’t likely to hit those bonuses and they could exceed the salary cap by the bonus amount without having to worry about being penalized later. The Oilers, though, already have a bunch of key players on entry-level deals with big bonus clauses, and the CBA limits the amount of bonus money that teams can treat as wiggle room.

For Edmonton, that means Reinhart effectively counts as a $3.2 million player against the salary cap next year, and that’s a problem because he isn’t close to being that good of a defenceman at this point in his career.

On the ability side of things, Reinhart is still trying to establish himself as a full-time NHL player. He’s big and smart, but he isn’t fast and both his puck skills and physical game tend to be inconsistent—sometimes you see them, sometimes you don’t. His shot metrics were underwhelming, ranking ninth of 10 regular Oilers defencemen (only Darnell Nurse came in lower). Regular partners Jordan Oesterle and Eric Gryba were both more impressive away from him. Offensively, his scoring rate (points/hour) was just one-third that of noted scoring machine Mark Fayne.

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I see three obvious approaches for Edmonton next season.

Play him in the NHL. Edmonton could opt to employ Reinhart in the NHL full-time (or close to full-time) next season. The cap hit is manageable in the sense that the Oilers could make room for it, and the team could decide that playing the 22-year-old third-year pro in the majors is what’s best for his development and therefore what’s best for the team in the long-term.

Play him in the AHL. Because Reinhart’s deal is an entry-level (and therefore two-way) contract, demoting him to the minors mean that the cap issues detailed above simply go away. He’d undoubtedly log heavy minutes in the minors and would remain available to the Oilers as a recall option. Next year, when his entry-level deal ends, Edmonton would have the option of signing him to a cheaper contract.

Trade him. For most teams, Reinhart’s bonuses aren’t relevant and the key point is his modest base salary (less than $900,000). That makes him a cheap addition and worth more to them in 2016-17 than he is to the Oilers. Additionally, there’s a positional argument for moving Reinhart: with Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse and Brandon Davidson all young left-shot defenders in the NHL (to say nothing of Jordan Oesterle, Dillon Simpson and David Musil in the AHL) it might not be a bad idea to move a young player with trade value from that position to try and address another area of actual weakness.

Which approach should the Oilers pursue?

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  • billythebullet

    Griffin and probably Nurse should have been full time AHL this year. Regardless, I would rather move Simpson or Musil to make room for one of Griffin or Nurse in the AHL next season. Competition for spots is a good thing. Just because his cap hit is 3.2 right now doesn’t mean he can’t be a cheaper 3rd pairing player after next season.

  • Jaxon

    Keep Reinhart. I don’t think they can keep Nurse down in the AHL (at least not for long) so that means Klefbom, Sekera, Nurse and Davidson on the left side. It’s also not a good idea to put Nurse in the press box as a developing star. Do you play Davidson on the right side or is he 7th D? Neither is ideal. I’d rather keep Pardy or sign a similar player for that role and keep Reinhart in the AHL. That gives you a young NHL LD as a valuable trade asset for an equivalent young NHL RD. Maybe Alex Petrovic from Florida or Mark Pysyk from Buffalo. They are all fairly equal players and would go a long way to balancing out the left right imbalance. Buffalo has the opposite problem so may be a perfect fit. Florida has a similar problem too, as they may lose 2 older vets -Campbell (36) and Mitchell (38)- to UFA and only have Kulikov on LD next season as a bonifide top 4 player. Petrovic will not be passing Ekblad or Gudbranson on RD. Davidson would be good for both teams and Pysyk and Petrovic both fit Edmonton’s needs. Add Ďemers and force Fayne to 2nd or 3rd pair role with Petrovic or Pysyk competing for 2nd or 3rd pair and your D is pretty solid without losing any core assets.

    EDIT: This is even more true if they convince Ziyat Paigin to break the final year of his KHL contract and come over. He’ll be playing in the AHL to start but he could challenge for a spot sooner than people think. An offensive, “gifted with great skating”, mobile, aggressive, 6′-6″, 209lbs D who moves and distributes the puck well just turned 21, with an NHLe of 48 pts! I don’t think you can find a D outside the NHL who projects better than that. So then your left side becomes Klefbom, Sekera, Nurse, Paigin, Reinhart. I would keep all of them until they are more sure about their potential ceiling as players.

    Davidson, Simpson, Musil are pretty much figured out now. Oesterle showed well but I’m not convinced he’ll peak any higher than 3rd pair and he’s not big or impressively offensive. Jones may be able to fetch a decent return from CBJ where his brother is the franchise building block who needs a new contract. LaLeggia has potential to be a great PP QB so I’d want to wait on him as well. So I’d see what I could get for all 5 of Davidson, Oesterle, Musil, Simpson and Jones. I love Davidson, but the truth is that he is most likely peaking at 3rd pair who can play 2nd pair in a bind. Nurse, Paigin and Reinhart may still have room to grow into 2nd pair or 1st pair. If that’s the case, then even Sekera may be moved as soon as his NMC becomes a modified NMC in 2019 or sooner. If Paigin comes over and starts to shine, then maybe I’d consider moving Reinhart in a couple years during his next contract. But Davidson is probably the one piece that can get Edmonton a solid young NHL ready Right-hand D without overpaying.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    If PC can get a top pair dman and a 2nd pair dman this summer, wouldn’t that move Fayne down to 3rd pair? Who would you want more Fayne or Reinhart? Who would be easier to trade?




    Imo, Reinhart and Fayne are very similar in they seem to play the same stay at home style, with Griff being more physical. Maybe PC can trade Fayne to a bottom cap floor team who then can leave him unprotected whenever Vegas comes into the league.

  • madjam

    I think Oilers will have 3 new bodies on defence to start next season . Two will be physical to move bodies out of the crease , the third more offensive to move the puck . My list of possibilities would be Hamonic , Gudbranson and Vatanen .

    Vatanen with one of Nurse/Davidson/Fayne/Reinhart

  • Poutine Gravy

    Why is keeping Reinhart not a more obvious decision, and why are people so quick to call Chiarelli’s trade even controversial?

    What happened to the patience we’re supposed to show with draft picks? He’s a 22 y.o. defenceman.

    Play him in the A. Sign him for cheap for a couple more years.

  • MorningOwl

    When you see Chiarelli in action, wheeling and dealing, it inspires confidence in his ability to trade stars away in order to make things better. this is evil genius!

    Chiarelli pulls the trigger on huge trade on national TV:


    (credit to WW for fishing this one fro the archives for your viewing pleasure. All oiler fans should watch this, so as to gain confidence in Chiarelli’s amazing demonstration of the “Art of the Deal”

  • TKB2677

    Here’s a question. If the Oilers actually drafted Reinhart where he was drafted, would they be freaking out as much about him?

    In my opinion, I think if he was an Oilers draft pick, people would be screaming for everyone to be patient, play him in the minors and let him develop. They would use the “Detroit model” in their argument of no rushing him, letting Reinhart develop on the farm and be “over ripe”.

    But because they traded a #16 and a 33 for him, it all changes? People spit the bit because he didn’t immediately jump in and be a dominate top 4 guy. HE WAS 21 YRS OLD, JUST TURNED 22 IN JANUARY. He was 2 years TOTAL of ANY pro hockey. Why is it so bad to let him develop???

    The #16 the Oilers gave up to get him will likely finish his junior career and play at least 1-2 years of minors before he even makes his NHL debut. I don’t call playing a handful of random NHL games, a players “NHL debut”. I’m talking an NHL regular. So that’s most likely 4 years before the #16 makes it into an NHL line up on a permanent basis best case scenario. The #16 in his first full year of NHL is up and down the line up, maybe in and out of the press box and will probably take another year of playing spot duty in the NHL before he makes any sort of legit impact. So we are talking up to 5 years before the #16, assuming he pans out, makes any kind of real contribution to a NHL team. The #33, will most likely be as long, if not LONGER before he makes any sort of real contribution if any at all. I’m not making those numbers up, that’s pretty typical for more mid round first rounders and definitely pretty typical for most seconds. So wouldn’t it be prudent to give Reinhart more than 1 year before anyone calls him junk?

  • TKB2677

    Here’s a question. If the Oilers actually drafted Reinhart where he was drafted, would they be freaking out as much about him?

    In my opinion, I think if he was an Oilers draft pick, people would be screaming for everyone to be patient, play him in the minors and let him develop. They would use the “Detroit model” in their argument of no rushing him, letting Reinhart develop on the farm and be “over ripe”.

    But because they traded a #16 and a 33 for him, it all changes? People spit the bit because he didn’t immediately jump in and be a dominate top 4 guy. HE WAS 21 YRS OLD, JUST TURNED 22 IN JANUARY. He was 2 years TOTAL

    • camdog

      People are a little uneasy about Reinhart because many thought the pick at 16 was a better player than Reinhart at the time, and that was without adding the second pick to the trade. When the Oilers traded Gretzky for Carson not too many were happy with Carson, of course it’s not really the same thing, but when you hands down lose a trade it’s tough for many to stomach.

      • TKB2677

        But the Oilers traded a draft pick for a live body. It’s not like they traded the 16th for some 7th round slug. In his draft year, he was ranked a top 10 pick and was picked 4th. I haven’t heard a single hockey person who doesn’t think Reinhart is an NHL player. How good he will be, is yet to be determined.

        Doesn’t anyone know for certain that the #16 will be better than Reinhart in 4 years? I don’t think so. If Reinhart turns into a big, strong, decent puck moving, good hockey sense, steady, decent top 4 guy and all it cost us was a couple of draft picks, I think we’d all be pretty happy with that. These days, good defensemen are highly valued. Reinhart is supposed to be what I described and showed flashes he can be exactly that. His last 15 games were very good and looked like he’s going to be a player. It typically takes Dmen a lot longer to develop than a forward. So it’s on Reinhart to take a step.

        There is no sure thing when it comes to the draft. You don’t have to look any farther than Yakupov. Yak was ranked as the #1 draft eligible player in the world. He was supposed to be a goal scoring, dynamic winger. People can pass blame on the Oilers or former coaches all they want about Yak’s lack of development. Some of it is on the Oilers and former coaches but a lot of it is on the player. If you look at Yak today and where he is at as a player, even the biggest Yak lover out there, Mr. Henderson, see’s Yak on the right team, put in the right situation as maybe a top 6 winger who will score you 20ish goals. In what year with whatever team you want to list, does a team draft a forward #1 overall to maybe be a top 6 forward and maybe score you 20 goals?
        Yak had 8 goals and 23 pts this year in 60 games while getting PP time most of the season. I don’t care what line a player is on or who he plays with, a supposedly offensive player taken #1 overall who was ranked as #1 overall in his draft year by everyone, should on talent alone score more than 8 goals and 23 pts if offense is basically his only calling card.

        So like I have said a couple of times. The prudent thing to do is to wait a year or 2 and see where Reinhart is at before anyone starts freaking out about giving a couple of draft picks that would have been used to draft a 18 yr old kid that’s 4 years way.

        • RJ

          I’m paraphrasing because you mentioned a lot, but you said “if he turns into a top-4 D”.

          A few things. He’s a LHD. If he plays top-4, that will mean he leapfrogged three of Klefbom, Sekera, Nurse and Davidson to be there. Davidson was arguably the Oilers best D last year, Sekera is a $5.5m D, Klefbom is pencilled in as a top pairing LHD next season, and while Nurse didn’t finish strong, he is a solid 5/6 guy and he’s young too.

          The other thing you’re skipping over is that the price the Oilers paid is what other teams paid for actual veteran NHL defencemen, not a prospect.

          The point isn’t just that they overpaid to acquire an AHL defender. It raises questions about their pro scouting. Who’s idea was it to spend all those picks for an AHL defender that isn’t going to join the team? Depending on which prospect they picked, those two guys could be in the AHL next season, and be NHL-ready in the same amount of time as Reinhart is taking.

  • Shredder

    I for one think Reinhart’s game is exactly what the Oilers need. I think he could be this team’s Robyn Regehr (sp?). It’s obvious he had a major step up in his game towards the end of the year after spending a bunch of time in the AHL. Start him in the AHL next year and I bet he finishes in the NHL. He’s on the cusp, and my guess is we’ll love having the guy.

    Mind you, if we were to get something substantial in return then I’d pull the trigger on a trade. I’d be surprised if NYI take him back, but Hamonic would be better than having Reinhart.

    • camdog

      What made Robyn great was his anger and his compete. Reinhart does not have this in his game and he will never have this in his game. That doesn’t mean he still can’t be a good d-man it just means he will never bring the emotion to the game the Robyn or Jason Smith brought to their respective teams.

      • Randaman

        It is well documented that when Griff returned late in the year, his game was much heavier and aggressive at times. It seems like any player brought in now has to provide instant gratification so to speak because of the last 10 years of SUCK. Not fair at all.

        Never will have it in his game sounds like you can tell the future. If that is the case, please tell me who will win Super Bowl next year. I could use the money

  • DannyGallivan

    Too soon to figure out what he will be when he begins to reach a D’s typical peak at 25-28 years so I would definitely keep him. There are others that can be more impactful at that position on the Oilers and we have to focus on winning rather than development. I would move him into the AHL so he can log heavy minutes and improve his game.

  • Oiler Al

    One-way ticket to Bakersfield for the year.
    He still young and could develop into an NHL 3 rd liner.

    An improved player he will mean more to the Oilers
    for use or trade.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    The Oilers need to bite the Bullet and start developing properly. Play the kid in the minors until there is no question he is ready. In my opinion Nurse should start there as well. Make a big trade for a man this summer that is a legit top two D-man. then sign some free agents to one year deals to cover the bases. Call-up as needed but lets not ave a repeat of this year where an AHL D-man is forced to try to play as a #1 for much of the year. I for one think Nurse will be a really good defencemen and I can see Reinhart could well turn in to a 4-8 that has some solid numbers and worth hanging on to. This will all hinge on proper development IMO otherwise they like so many others will just rotate out the door. (I also feel that we would be serious contenders now if many of our young players had not been handed the keys to the kingdom so soon and had been forced to play AHL time and learn the defensive side of the game and how to be a good pro. #1 on my list of players like this is Yak as he is so lost in the NHL.

  • Derzie

    If a defenseman dominates in the AHL for several months, then he should be in the NHL. Not before then unless trial call=ups have shown he plays better with better players around him. Edmonton has never done this. The Reinhardt trade was indeed terrible in the short term. Don’t guarantee it is terrible long-term as well. Leave the kids in the A until he dominates (or not). Bring in stars through trade or seasoned 3rd pairing guys to hold the fort until the young guys are ready. Playing Nurse & Reinhardt for more than a few trial games is damaging to their growth.

  • Wiggleswag

    Let him be a leader in the A. He has the tools to be dominant in that league, let him show it.
    He also has experience on the right side. Bakersfield is short on righties too. They need to build a winner as well.

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    It’s simple.

    – Don’t trade him unless someone overpays (like Chiarelli did, haha!).
    – Don’t count on him to start the year in the NHL next year.
    – Continue developing him in the AHL if he doesn’t make the team out of training camp.

    Reinhart is a good to very good prospect. We paid a pretty penny to acquire him – probably too much – but that’s a sunk cost and there’s no use dwelling on it.

  • toprightcorner

    I would build up the back end to a level where Reinharts ranking among them would have him starting in the AHL. I would have a 7th dman like Pardy so if there was an injury, Pardy would fill in and someone from the farm can be called up to sit in the pressbox until Reinhart had proven himself worthy of at lest 40 games. Would rather have him stay in the AHL too long then not long enough. That should be the Oilers thoughts when developing a dman.