Brandon Davidson’s untimely injury robbed the Edmonton Oilers of one of their top defensemen. Despite being a rookie, Davidson has been a tremendous help to coach Todd McLellan in an area of extreme weakness. The rookie’s progress has to put him front and center when we discuss the 2016-17 blue, which brings us to Griffin Reinhart.
Griffin Reinhart occupies a strange place among Oilers fans and I hope he is blissfully unaware. When we talk about trades, I think most of us are dealing with team-building and organizational thoughts. There are times though, and they happen more often than they should, when people get personal about these things. So, I am hopeful we can have a conversation that is not personal. Cool?
MY TRADE DAY THOUGHTS
On the morning after the deal, I wrote the following on Peter Chiarelli, Griffin Reinhart and the Oilers oranization:
In terms of value, Peter Chiarelli gave up too much. Reinhart—if everything works out—projects as a second-pairing guy and the price paid was dear, too dear. Oilers fans will grind themselves into a fine white powder on this issue, I choose not to do it. Two things are absolutely true:
- Griffin Reinhart is a substantial prospect who can fill a role inside Edmonton’s top 6D when he matures, perhaps as early as this season.
- Edmonton gave up two picks in a deep draft for a prospect who—while more advanced than the draft picks—is unlikely to play a similar kind of feature role upon arrival.
The Oilers paid dearly but were glad to do it in order to secure a prospect they knew very well. There’s no real way to argue it was a good deal in terms of value but the new regime believes Reinhart is worth the risk. Lose the battle, win the war. The club didn’t like the No. 4 defenseman on their list as much as Reinhart, so they pulled the trigger. They liked the tools blue, but felt a mean streak was more valuable.
- Elliotte Friedman: “The one thing I would bet, more than anything else, is that they didn’t want to call up Reinhart. That they wanted him to be in the American Hockey League and playing those games, big minutes, every night. But all of the sudden you’re looking at this situation where you lose another guy. ‘What are we going to do?’ Source
I don’t know if Reinhart will play tomorrow night, suspect there is a chance he is here for insurance. Todd McLellan has shown some hesitancy to put newcomers into the lineup without practice. We will see.
I also don’t think he will be here long. Reinhart may be up toward the deadline, when Fayne or Schultz or Gryba are sent away. Right now, the perfect fit partner for Reinhart (Brandon Davidson) is injured and Reinhart is not an ideal partner for Mark Fayne or Eric Gryba.
IF I WERE KING
They don’t ask me, but if I were king Griffin Reinhart would stay in the minors until he is ready. I will go you one more and suggest Darnell Nurse might be wise to join him in Bakersfield. Here are the AHL games at 20 for recent Oilers blue prospects:
- Oscar Klefbom 48 (and then NHL-ready)
- Martin Marincin 69 (and not NHL-ready)
- David Musil 61 (and not NHL-ready)
- Griffin Reinhart 59 (and not NHL-ready)
- Darnell Nurse 6 (strong early, appears to be faltering, may not be NHL-ready)
Say what you want about Craig MacTavish, but he sent Oscar Klefbom down and the young Swede played most of the season there as a rookie (NA) pro. Darnell Nurse played six games in the AHL, I think it is completely reasonable to suggest he might benefit from more time in the minors (he looked to have some tough moments last night and the numbers match). Brandon Davidson didn’t play at 20 in the AHL, he was in junior. At 21, he played 11 in the ECHL and 26 in the AHL, on his way to a long period in the minors.
It is a marathon, not a sprint. Peter Chiarelli has it right: Let the bloggers and fans scream at the top of their lungs—doesn’t matter. The die is cast, the trade is gone, those who are going to hate Griffin Reinhart for reasons beyond hockey will remain that way no matter.
Make Griffin Reinhart the best Griffin Reinhart he can be, and that means more sorties in the AHL until he is NHL-ready. The only pressure should come from him and the coaches who support and guide him. Get it right, Mr. Chiarelli. You owe it to the fans to develop the best possible Griffin Reinhart.