No one ever accused Oilers fans of getting over things quickly, and the Griffin Reinhart trade at last year’s draft is hanging around like a pugnacious meatloaf. Today, Bob McKenzie was on TSN 1040 Vancouver talking about the Erik Gudbranson trade—and the subject of Griffin Reinhart’s trade to Edmonton came up.
- Bob McKenzie: “Yeah, you never know. They paid a stiff price to get Griffin Reinhart. I thought at the time that they made the deal at the draft last year that the Griffin Reinhart deal was a good deal, with the one proviso that he had to be NHL-ready and able to step in and play, and it turns out that he wasn’t. So that deal for Edmonton –it’s not to say it can’t be an effective deal if Reinhart develops into that guy that you can count on as somebody that can play in your top 4 or 5. But the fact that he wasn’t able to do it this year – and that was kind of the motivation for giving up a first round pick is that we don’t want to wait for a young defenseman, so let’s go out and get ourselves one who should be ready now after playing pro (with) some NHL time (and) also some time in the minors. That’s a guy that I anticipated – I thought he’d go right into their lineup and be pretty effective. The fact that he wasn’t, and they paid a pretty steep price. So yeah, it’ll be pretty interesting to see what happens on the defensemen market here.” Source
Not a word out of place, and we have talked on this blog about all of these elements. Here is what I said the day after the trade:
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.
- Reinhart MAY be NHL-ready. Projecting him as a solution this fall is jumping the gun. Source
- People telling me I am crazy because I believe it was an overpay.
- People telling me I am crazy for even thinking Griffin Reinhart can play hockey.
- People genuinely trying to find out about the player.
I have given up on the first two groups, but would like to address the third group (we will have cookies and milk as soon as the rowdies leave). I like to hear from coaches in these situations. Here’s one now.
- Oilers assistant coach Jim Johnson on Reinhart: “For him, it’s his skating ability and making sure he feels comfortable enough that he’s not flat-footed. If he’s got good momentum coming back and gaps up well in the offensive zone on offensive rushes, if he does that, I think that will give him a little bit more confidence defending. He’ll get better, he’s a young defenceman.”
- More Johnson: “We’ve got to realize a lot of young defencemen take a long time to develop at this level and we’re going to be patient with him and do it the right way. It’s going to be a lot like Davidson who played a lot of important minutes in the American League, caught up to the pro game and continued his development.”
- “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.”
All of these quotes and lines are telling us one way or another that Reinhart was not ready—and may not play a substantial role on an Oilers team. Back in November (and before) I suggested Reinhart was a luxury for a team that could not afford one (and here is why).
- 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
Trading for Reinhart was an overpay, but one of the reasons for the deal (NHL-ready D) was not at all clear on the day the trade was made—this blog argued (correctly) that Darnell Nurse was farther along then, now and in the future. That was the mistake, a reflection not on the player, but rather the management. I suggest we put that aside and discuss the player.
Griffin Reinhart may have a Thomas Hickey career, and he may never become the player everyone hoped he would be on draft day. That said, it is genuinely crazy to keep hammering the young man about a trade he had nothing to do with—and it brings any hope for a reasonable online conversation to a halt with great speed.
So, can we set aside that meatloaf and have an adult conversation about Griffin Reinhart and his future? My guess is no. However, let’s try one more time. Ahem.
Small sample size, but the question is this: If the Oilers trade Darnell Nurse for a RHD, can Griffin Reinhart be regarded as a reasonable substitute—in the coming season and beyond?