The Edmonton Oilers recalled defensemen Griffin Reinhart and Jordan Oesterle today, while placing Matt Benning and Jujhar Khaira on IR. The moves offer a great deal of insight into the thinking of management and coaching today, as veteran Mark Fayne remains in the minors.
The big item for me is Reinhart’s progress. when he was sent down, there were specific and sizable problems expressed by the coach.
- Todd McLellan: “Griffin has to improve his game in every area to be a National Hockey Leaguer. He has to get stronger, his (defensive) reads. He has to get down into the American League and understand that because he’s got work to do to get back here. That was the message delivered to him and he accepted it, well.” Source
That was October 7. Story here.
Get the sense after Reinhart didn't grab it and the indifferent play of one of the vets that the Oilers still exploring options to upgrade D
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) October 7, 2016
On the day he was sent down, Edmonton still had eight defenders (Sekera, Larsson, Klefbom, Davidson, Nurse, Fayne, Gryba, Benning) and Kris Russell on the way. By any stretch, Reinhart would have been No. 10 on the depth chart (or worse) on opening night.
The curious thing is how many players were recalled after the beginning of the season and before today’s recall.
- Six Opening Night (Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Sekera, Kris Russell, Brandon Davidson, Darnell Nurse)
- Extra/Injured Opening Night (Mark Fayne, Matt Benning)
- October 19—Ben Betker recalled (did not play)
- November 5—Dillon Simpson recalled (he has played in three games)
- December 7—David Musil recalled (did not play)
- December 30—Jordan Oesterle recalled (did not play)
- February 4—Griffin Reinhart recalled
Some of these men were recalled and returned more than once, list is here. Including all men from opening night through today, Edmonton has placed 12 men on the parent roster before him. That is a deep dive down the depth chart, although cap bonus issues probably played a part. Reinhart’s value is tied up in defense, as is reflected in his boxcar numbers.
REINHART IN THE AHL
I think we have Reinhart surrounded at the AHL level, he does seem to have been more involved in the power play this season with the Condors.
Photo by Mark Williams
If Reinhart is about defense and shutting down sorties, Jordan Oesterle’s story revolves around speed and moving the puck effectively. If you have been observing the Oilers Hail Mary passes recently, the idea of another mobile player back on the blue is probably welcome.
Oesterle has progressed nicely as an offensive defender in the AHL, perhaps we will see him get some 5×4 time during his stay with the Oilers. In previous looks with Edmonton, Oesterle brought enough defensive chaos to be a concern. Both men may return to the Condors quickly, as Edmonton has a week off after the game tomorrow in Montreal. More tomorrow.