On the weekend I had a chance (along with Paul Almeida) to talk with Paul and Griffin Reinhart. It was mere hours after the trade that brought Griffin to the Oilers and both men were pleased with the opportunity.
- Paul Reinhart on his son Griffin’s opportunity : “It’s a tough league for any player to break in to, let alone succeed in. Not only is it tough it’s almost impossible if not given the opportunity. You need an organization and a staff that is prepared to work with you and develop you. That’s out of a player’s control and I think with a change of scenery here and with the familiarity that Griffin has with the whole organization it really puts him in a great state of mind right now.”
When the Edmonton Oilers sent away two high picks in a deep draft for Griffin Reinhart, they were clearly sending a message to him: He’s a big part of the future. Reinhart’s size and style make him a ‘perfect fit’ for a young team with plenty of flash and offensive brilliance, but a distinct lack of rugged men with size who can actually play. That’s where Reinhart comes in. For his part, Griffin Reinhart had a tough year away from Edmonton, as he toiled in the minors for most of the season. He’s ready to grab the opportunity.
- Paul Reinhart: “He was incredibly motivated, I’ve never seen him more motivated than he was at the beginning of this summer, just because he knew his time had come and he was ready to go. Even before the trade, the fact that he’s been traded to a place like this is just a dream come true for him.”
The timing is perfect for the Oilers as well. Former Oil Kings GM Bob Green is now the top man in amateur procurement, and Griffin Reinhart would be well known for good deeds during their time together with Edmonton’s WHL team.
- Bob Green: “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.” Source
- Paul Reinhart: “You need to temper some of the enthusiasm with the knowledge that a lot of his peers who were in that draft have a year or two of experience—and that’s tough to get. I think that the real measurement of Griffin will be ‘what does he look like after Christmas?’ and into the future. I know what he’ll be in two or three years from now.”
This falls in line with my own belief that relying on Reinhart for big minutes or a feature role right away is asking too much. Todd McLellan will have an opportunity to evaluate him in the fall, and Oilers fans like you and me will argue all summer about where he belongs. When it comes to defensemen, most often injuries dictate usage and with several elder blue in Edmonton now it’s likely we’ll GR for an extended period (or all year) during 2015-16.
- Griffin Reinhart on his first year of pro hockey: “I think it was a little inconsistent, I had stretches where I wasn’t playing very well and maybe a little bit frustrated and disappointed maybe I wasn’t up in the big league but when I was playing well I played extremely well and was able to keep up—especially in some of the games I got to play up in the NHL. I thought I handled myself well and it’s always a confidence booster when you do play well at that level.”
The Islanders have many quality prospects but the deals for Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy impacted his NHL opportunity as a rookie pro in a big way. The frustration and disappointment aside, Reinhart appeared to work through the issues and come out the other side playing well.
- Griffin Reinhart’s things to work on: “There’s a lot of things. I’m always going to work on every part of my game. I think the biggest focus is agility, skating and making sure I stay low and in a good hockey position. I think sometimes I tend to have straight legs almost and that may costs me a little bit, but that’s something I’m working on this summer.“
Defense is a tough position at any level, and the transition from junior to pro is a massive step. Reinhart’s adjustment continues and Oilers fans have seen many youngsters over the years make their way at the NHL level. Reinhart’s AHL experience in the Islanders system may have prepared him in a way that some Oilers prospects haven’t received when they make their pro debut. We should also account for the possibility that Reinhart spends some time in Bakersfield this season and his development continues in the Oilers organization.
Full interview is very interesting, both men were gracious with their time and it’s appreciated. Interview begins at 46 minute mark. Source