It’s no secret that the Oilers have had a rough time developing impact NHL players outside of the first round over the past decade. Since 2007 when Edmonton’s rebuild began, Tobias Rieder leads all Oilers drafted players in NHL games played by those who were drafted outside the first round. Unfortunately, none of those games were played with the Oilers.
Due to signability concerns, Steve Tambellini dealt Rieder’s rights to the Arizona Coyotes for fighter Kale Kessy, who never ended up playing a game in the NHL. Rieder had a few solid years in the Desert, got dealt to Los Angeles midway through the 2017-18 season, and is now an unrestricted free agent as the Kings chose not to tender him a qualifying offer.
Could the Oilers make up for their mistake and bring back Rieder as a free agent this summer?
#LAKings will not be qualifying 25-year-old forward Tobias Rieder ($2.25m), making him a potential UFA on July 1.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) June 25, 2018
Who is Tobias Rieder?
Like I said above, Rieder was an Oilers draft pick all the way back in 2011. Born and raised in Germany, Rieder came to North America in his pre-draft season to play for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. He scored 49 points in 65 games but thrived as a good, responsible two-way player.
In 2013, the Oilers traded Rieder’s rights to the Arizona Coyotes for another unsigned prospect in Kale Kessy. This was back during the days where the Oilers wanted to become heavy and gritty, drafting coke machines with low offensive upside like Mitch Moroz with high draft picks. There was some concern that Rieder didn’t want to sign in Edmonton due to their abundance of young wingers — Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi, and Nail Yakupov — at the time.
Rieder would end up cracking Arizona’s roster in 2014-15, scoring 13 goals and 21 points in 73 games playing in a depth role for the Coyotes. The following two seasons Rieder carved out a nice niche as a middle-six forward who could kill penalties and chip in offensively. He scored 14 goals in 2015-16 and 16 goals in 2016-17.
The Coyotes chose to move on from Rieder prior to last season’s trade deadline. They shipped Rieder along with goaltender Scott Wedgewood to the Kings in exchange for Darcy Keumper, who, at the time, was one of the NHL’s leaders in save percentage. He scored just four goals and six points in 20 games down the stretch with the Kings and will now hit unrestricted free agency on July 1.
If I'm Oilers and price is right I'm trying to bring Rieder back as UFA after trading him once before. He'd be solid 3rd line player and he can skate— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) June 25, 2018
Does he fit on the Oilers?
Rieder would be a nice fit on the Oilers. He’s a two-way winger who skates well, kills penalties, and can chip in a little bit of offence. He’s a left-shot winger who generally plays on the right side, which is Edmonton’s biggest need this summer.
Times have certainly changed for both Rieder and the Oilers. Ironically, the reason he apparently didn’t want to sign with Edmonton as a prospect was the team’s wealth of depth on the wings. Now, five years later, the lack of depth on the wings is the exact reason he would be a perfect fit for the team.
Another interesting thing to consider is the fact that Rieder knows Leon Draisaitl very well. The two countrymen have played together internationally on multiple occasions, so that could be a potential lure to bring Rieder to Edmonton.
Rieder is coming off a contract that paid him $2,225,000 annually over two years. The qualifying offer would have cost the Kings a shade under $3,000,000, but given his underwhelming season, he won’t command that much on the free agent market. If the Oilers can get Rieder on a similar deal to the one he inked with the Coyotes two years ago, they should be all over it.