With each passing day, fans are choosing sides on Griffin Reinhart. The verbal on this young man is incredible now, I hope he’s not reading the internet because some people don’t believe he can skate at all. Some of us had a chance to see him up close and personal and that suggests a bias. Others seem to be flushing the player based on Edmonton’s drafting record or well established tendency to look close to home for solutions—that too is a bias. Both sides have dug in and there’s not much (imo) chance of changing opinions.
That’s cool, because time will answer all and training camp is just around the corner. However, when we have diatribes like this (“I read he can’t skate and that’s all I need, he sucks!”) it’s time to go back to the scouting reports and remind ourselves of the player at the time of the draft.
HE CAN’T SKATE! AT ALL!
- 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.
- Craig Button: Griffin may be a diamond in the rough but he possesses the carats of a unique player. He has a an excellent understanding of the game with a composure and patience that may suggest a lack of urgency but don’t be confused, his competitive waters run deep and he’s capable of being aggressive and assertive when necessary. He is a very good skater with strong balance and agility and along with his size, he is extremely difficult to break down 1-1 and gain an advantage on. He uses his body effectively and doesn’t lose position and is capable of punishing opponents. His vision is very good, he sees the play unfolding, knows what his options are and is capable of doing this very quickly. He makes very good plays in all areas of the game and ones that gain advantages for his team. His offensive skills continue to evolve and he is increasingly confident creating offense. Griffin has an assuredness in his play and along with his skill and physical attributes, makes him a player who has a chance to be an impact player in the NHL.
HE NEVER DEVELOPED
- Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus: What separates him from other big defensemen is that he has the puck skills to make people miss, execute all the little plays in tight quarters, and to deliver crisp, accurate passes consistently. Reinhart also has a more aggressive offensive element to his game as he will join the rush and doesn’t shy from being creative in the offensive end of the rink. He also has a pretty big shot from the point that he can put a lot of his big frame into. The thing that has seen Reinhart establish himself so well in the industry has been his improvements.
The Edmonton Oilers tracked Griffin Reinhart all through 2012. The young man played in the scouting staff’s back yard and in management’s office. The opportunity was there to impress, and he did. It was an extreme advantage for Reinhart and the benefit for the organization might be this: Reinhart’s improvement from September to March was exceptional. In the end, it wasn’t enough. I think the Oilers would have drafted Ryan Murray if they’d gone blue and only a trade down on draft day would have ensured the Oil Kings top defender heading to the Oilers in 2012.
MY OWN OPINION
I’m not a scout and absolutely saw him good as an Oil Kings player—bias. However, if the Oilers had taken him No. 1 overall in 2012 I would have told you it was an overpay, and I told you draft night and next morning this year Peter Chiarelli gave up too much for the player. That said, I like him, always have. Reinhart’s speed wasn’t an issue in junior and beyond that I can’t tell you, no idea if he’ll be fast enough for the NHL that’s why they play the games. I can say with authority that Darnell Nurse is a more dynamic skater, more mobile, but that’s something you can say about damn near every big defenseman on the planet (not many have Nurse’s size/speed combination).
Reinhart played RH side a lot in junior, was on the power play there and in the AHL (where his numbers with the man advantage were impressive based on suggestions of playing time). I think he’ll play over half a season in the NHL next season and suggest we all watch those games and make the call at that time.
He had good enough speed in junior for at least two scouts to remark on how good it was at that time. For me, that kind of evidence trumps what my eyes tell me and what the internet suggests, but it’s also true that the Oilers have and do get stubborn on players and that costs them.
A recent example? Martin Marincin. Another example? Jeff Petry. Just as the Ottawa Senators are going to jam Jared Cowen into the NHL because they’re stubborn, so too the Oilers have cast away Martin Marincin and those silly Toronto Maple Leafs don’t know what they’re in for this coming season.
I wrote this morning that (imo) Nurse is the better bet for NHL action this winter and remain convinced for multiple reasons. Based on one scathing email received today, you’re not buying and think there’s some anti-Reinhart sentiment on this blog. I’d tell you that isn’t true, but it seems we’ve reached the point in the summer where there are demons and ill will everywhere and paranoia strikes deep.
If I’m reading the internet correctly these days, Griffin Reinhart is a slow boat who can barely tie his shoes—while also being an NHL-ready defenseman with size and mobility. It can’t be both, the scouts on draft day liked him plenty.
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. I think he’s close to NHL ready. I also think Darnell Nurse is a better prospect now and into the future.
#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
Will Nurse pass Reinhart and make Peter Chiarelli’s words ring hollow? I think the answer is yes. We wait.