Griffin Reinhart Comparison Essay

This in from NHL insider John Shannon of Sportsnet, his valuation of Las Vegas d-man Griffin Reinhart, essentially that Reinhart has no trade value at the NHL level at this point and would clear waivers if sent to the AHL. 

Shannon was talking to Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now, when Stauffer mentioned that Vegas is going right now with nine d-men and three of them have yet to play, Brad Hunt, Griffin Reinhart and Jon Merrill.

So far the Knights have gone with Jason Garrison, Lucas Sbisa, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland.

Shannon suggested that Vegas GM George McPhee is still trying to trade away players. He’s hoping to find a market, so he has yet to send them down to the AHL. “I think he’s just being methodical because he thinks he has some level of assets. And in reality we know that… he doesn’t have near the assets that he truly believes he has.”

Shea Theodore should be in the NHL right now, Shannon said, but because Theodore is still on an Entry Level Contract he did not have to clear waivers to go to the AHL, while Hunt, Reinhart and Merrill do have to clear waivers.

“The thing is they’re going to lose somebody on waivers here,” Stauffer said. “Do you think somebody would claim Reinhart if he went on waivers?”

“No,” Shannon said. “I think Griffin and Brad Hunt are in the same boat.” 

My take

  1. I was surprised to hear this valuation of Reinhart from Shannon, who is a well connected insider. I thought some NHL team, maybe even the Oilers, would take a chance on Reinhart if he was waived. That said, waiver claims are rare in the NHL and league insiders usually get these predictions right.
  2. If Shannon is indeed correct, Reinhart’s value has rapidly dropped. In June 2012, Reinhart was the fourth player taken in the entry draft. That is five long years ago now, so it’s not surprising that his value has crashed since then. But in June 2015, the Oilers traded the 18th and 33rd picks in the 2015 entry draft for Reinhart. For at least one team, Reinhart still had a lot of value just then, and more evidence on that front came when Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli talked about Reinhart immediately stepping into a major role on the Oilers. But that never materialized.
  3. Reinhart stumbled out of the gate in 2015-16 and spent almost all of the remainder of his Oilers career in Bakersfield in the AHL. He did get into a playoff game last spring and held his own in the match.
  4. I watched Reinhart in ten games in the Bake last year and liked his play fine. He was more assertive rushing the puck and could still smother opposing attackers most often.
  5. Edmonton could use a bottom-pairing left shot d-man just now, as it’s possible that the Oilers will want to team up a lefty other than Yohann Auvitu on the bottom pairing with Matt Benning. It all depends on how Auvitu does when he gets his chance. If he can’t hack it on the bottom pairing, having another depth left shot d-man might help. That said, the Oilers might think that Dillon Simpson is just as good a bet as Reinhart. Or they might want some other left shot d-man altogether, not Reinhart, not Simpson, someone more like Auvitu, a pure puck mover. 
  6. What’s interesting here, of course, is that Shannon thinks no NHL team would want Reinhart essentially for the price of his contract, a two-year deal at $800,000 per. Perhaps the speed of the game is fast catching up to a certain style of d-man, the large but average-skating kind. Nonetheless, I’m still a bit surprised at the suggestion that no one would claim Reinhart. At the same time, I doubt Shannon is getting this wrong.

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The little I’ve seen of Griffin Reinhart in Bakersfield this year I’ve liked, but The Hockey News sees it otherwise.

In their Future Watch 2017 magazine, no prospect has dropped more over time than Reinhart. 

Three years ago in Future Watch 2014, Reinhart, who had been taken fourth overall in the 2012 draft by the New York Islanders, was ranked 11th overall. Reinhart is now unranked, nowhere to be seen in the magazine’s list of Top 100 NHL prospects outside the NHL.

The Hockey News gets its list and rankings by polling NHL scouts, one from each NHL team. A master of 300 prospects is compiled, then scouts are asked to rank their top 60. There’s a soft cutoff of 50 NHL games to draw a line between prospect and NHLer.

Reinhart, 23, is now in his third year in pro hockey, most of it spent in the American Hockey League. He has 18 points in 49 games for Bakersfield, where he’s played as on the top-pairing. The Hockey News writes, “He has the size to be a shutdown force but his lack of speed is an issue, and the Oilers want him to be more assertive.”

When I checked in on Reinhart via the Internet for a few games in January, he looked as active and assertive as I had ever seen him. He was something of a commanding presence on the ice, playing a sound positional game, while moving and rushing the puck confidently.

Reinhart will have to get even better with the puck and far more cranky and nasty when he doesn’t have it to become a Top 4 NHL d-man at this late date in his prospect life. As I noted then, maybe he should take some battle drills from New Jersey coach Scott Stevens, just like Adam Larsson did earlier in his career. But it looked to me like Reinhart would get the job done in capable fashion in a bottom-pairing if an NHL team needed him there.

Other major drops on The Hockey News list include Carolina’s Haydn Fleury, 29 to 98 in two years, Pittsburgh’s Derrick Pouliot, 20th to 79 in three years, and the Isles’ Michael Dal Colle, 12 to 93 in two years.

The price paid for Reinhart

Reinhart was acquired in 2015 for two draft picks from the New York Islanders. The Isles used one of those picks, 16th overall, to draft Mathew Barzal, who is ranked 8th by The Hockey News. The Isles used the second round pick also acquired from Edmonton to package with a third round pick and draft Anthony Beauvillier at 28th overall that year. As a 19-year old, he has 22 points in 62 games for the Islanders this year.

On the plus side, the 30 scouts for The Hockey News ranked Jesse Puljujarvi of Bakersfield as the second best prospect. Goalie Laurent Brossoit, now with the Oilers, was ranked 78th. They are the only two Oilers prospects in the Top 100, with players like Tyler Benson, Caleb Jones, Jujhar Khaira, Markus Niemelainen and Ethan Bear failing to make the cut. For my money, Khaira is under-rated here, while Benson remains something an unknown due to his injury history.

For comparison, divisional rivals Anaheim has five players in the Top 50 (Shea Theodore, 22nd, Jacob Larsson, 23, Max Jones, 28, Brandon Montour, 30, Sam Steel, 40), Calgary has four in the Top 100 (Tyler Parsons, 34, Jon Gillies, 49, Mark Jankowski, 66, Oliver Kylington, 96), but Los Angeles has just two in the Top 100 (Adrian Kempe, 47, Kale Clague, 94). 

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