It’s rare for NHL teams to trade top five overall picks before those players establish their level of ability at the big league level. There’s significant risk in dealing away these players, but it’s also true that the drafting organization has already made the call on the player’s long-term potential. Consider the last 10 seasons: Griffin Reinhart (2012); Nino Niederreiter (2010); Brayden Schenn (2009) were the only men dealt before seeing significant NHL time. Two from the Islanders and one part of a blockbuster deal via Los Angeles. It’s a rare thing, but there’s also a hint of ‘bloom off the rose’ in all three cases. These are the facts as we know them as Griffin Reinhart enters his Oilers career.
PREVIOUSLY NO. 5 ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: D Doug Lynch (2 NHL games)
- December 2005: C Andrew Cogliano (640 NHL games)
- December 2006: L Jean-Francois Jacques (166 NHL games)
- December 2007: C Rob Schremp (114 NHL games)
- December 2008: D Alex Plante (10 NHL games)
- December 2009: D Theo Peckham (160 NHL games)
- December 2010: D Theo Peckham (160 NHL games)
- December 2011: D Martin Marincin (95 NHL games)
- December 2012: L Teemu Hartikainen (52 NHL games)
- December 2013: C Jujhar Khaira
- December 2014: W Iiro Pakarinen (27 NHL games)
Very similar to the previous list (Cogliano, JFJ, Schremp) with Theo Peckham thrown in for good measure. Khaira, Pakarinen and now Reinhart have much of their story still to be written, but if you look back at Alex Plante in 2008—that’s one of the big reasons Edmonton’s defense is poor. Major miss in 2007.
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- 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.
- 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.
- BJ MacDonald, central scouting: “He’s got nice, soft hands for a big defenseman, can run the power play and has a big shot — both the wrist shot and slapper. He moves the puck as well as anyone in this year’s draft and I like the way he thinks the game. He’s got a nice pro style that will make for an easier transition to the (NHL).”
- 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.
MEMORIAL CUP ANALYTICS
- Megan Richardson: “What is there to say about Griffin Reinhart? Here’s a guy who played probably every even strength shift against the Petan line or the De Leo line, two monster entry and possession lines. At the beginning of the regular season, those six players carried the puck in an average of 84% of the time. And yet, playing against that top competition, he had the greatest percentage of break-ups and fewest shot attempts against per entry of all Edmonton’s defensemen, rivaled only by Irving, who played cupcake minutes. To see the true impact he had on entries, we can look at his defensive partner Ashton Sautner, no slouch himself, and see how he got burned. After seeing this, I don’t disagree with his choice as MVP of the series.” Source
PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING
- Summer 2015: 4
- Winter 2015: 5
- Michael Fornabaio, Connecticut Post, on progress in the AHL in 2014-15: “I thought he did improve. I did see progress. A lot of people look at that No. 4 overall and expected too much. He’s a player who has that size, they wanted him to get a bit more aggressive (in Bridgeport) and sometimes he was able to do that, sometimes players were able to beat him. Over the course of the season I saw, he learned his way, figured things out, and was making some adaptations.”
- Michael Fornabaio, Connecticut Post, On playing in the AHL: “Sometimes it’s easier to defend in the NHL because everyone else is in the right place so you can do your own thing. I wonder if that was an issue. He came down (to Bridgeport) after the first couple games on the Island and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a player as determined to get back up there (to the NHL). At that time he came out and said I want to be an NHL player and want to show that I’m an NHL player.”
- Corey Pronman: “He’s high-end defensively, and average offensively, which is still a pretty good player. He performed well versus men this season in the AHL and could make the Oilers very soon.”
- Peter Chiarelli: “He’s ready to play and he’s going to be a very good part of our D.”
- Todd McLellan: “It’s healthy, youth coming through if they can be productive is a real positive thing. I consider Griff to be a very young defenseman in the league, very young. He’s probably played less than Davey (Brandon Davidson) now I think, so he needs that time to grow and gain some experience.”
— Marty Klinkenberg (@globemartyk) November 9, 2015
- Peter Chiarelli (on his believing Griffin Reinhart being an NHL defenseman right now): “That’s fair. There’s a little bit of lead time that he has to get up and running. He has to make our team. We’ve got 8 or 9 D who are challenging. I believe he is, yeah. What I saw from him in the Memorial Cup. I know his year last year wasn’t great and there’s reasons behind that and that really is—not excuses—but there are reasons that explain it. But what I saw in the Memorial Cup is that you’ve got a player here who can dominate, that can lug the puck, and that can make plays. And for a bigger sized man, he can move well, and I would expect him to be in the top 4 at some point.”
- Lowetide: 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. Source
— Stan Davis (@RealStanDavis) November 6, 2015
REINHART WOWY AND VOLLMAN
Griffin Reinhart is a former No. 4 overall selection who has some impressive things on his resume. His junior career was outstanding, and the Megan Richardson report above gives us a glimpse into what he might become at the pro level. He is not that player now, and will need some time to establish himself in the NHL.
One thing that will make his transition to the NHL more difficult: Darnell Nurse. He and GR arrived at the same time and Nurse is a better player across all the disciplines (or appears to be). Reinhart has had an injury early in the year, further complicating things.
Long story short: I like Griffin Reinhart as a prospect. I don’t think the Oilers needed him this year because his skills are duplicated (and exceeded) by Darnell Nurse. He may also face competition from minor leaguer Brandon Davidson, who is proving to be surprisingly useful this autumn.
While those things are interesting, that doesn’t have anything to do with our conversation here. Reinhart is a very valuable young player, and his future probably involves several years as a productive NHL regular. It’s not certain that future will be in Edmonton.
THE 2012 DRAFT
- Nail Yakupov, No. 1 overall. The 2015-16 season is the most encouraging we’ve seen from him since his rookie year. Flourishing with McDavid. Graduated to the NHL.
- Griffin Reinhart, No. 4 overall. The Oilers didn’t draft him, but sure as hell talked about it based on what we’re told. If the Garth Snow rumors are true, Steve Tambellini made a massive error. He’s pushing for NHL employment now. No. 5 prospect, Winter 2015. (acquired summer 2015).
- Mitch Moroz, No. 32 overall. Finally getting some AHL time and showing a pulse. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
- Jujhar Khaira, No. 63 overall. Stepping up this season offensively in his second year in the AHL. Not sure if we should trust it, but an interesting curio. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
- Daniil Zharkov, No. 91 overall. Injured during a tryout with the AHL team. Not officially in the organization.
- Erik Gustafsson, No. 93 overall. Productive defender in Europe, Oilers passed on opportunity to sign him. Signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and is productive as a member of their team. Of course. No longer in the organization.
- Joey Laleggia, No. 123 overall. Undersized puck mover turned pro and is finding his way in the AHL. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
- John McCarron, No. 153 overall. Didn’t sign after college, now in the ECHL. No longer part of the organization.
GRIFFIN REINHART, EDMONTON OILERS
5×5 points per 60: nil
5×4 points per 60: nil
Qual Comp: No. 4 among D’s
Qual Team: No. 5 among D’s
Corsi Rel: -12.2 No. 8 among D’s
Corsi for % 5×5: 45.9
Zone Start: 51.7
Shots on goal/percentage: 7/0
Boxcars: 10GP, 0-0-0