Ex-Oiler Reinhart May Be the Most Expensive Non-NHL Player Ever

Griffin Reinhart last played professionally in 2019-20 with Beijing’s Kunlun Red Star in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). That’s a long way from being drafted 4th overall by the New York Islanders in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Reinhart Oil Kings
Griffin Reinhart failed to live up to his junior hockey promise.

Many high draft choices have had fizzling trajectories, but have any been as expensive as Reinhart?

A Sky So Blue, You Have to Wear Shades

Reinhart was a storied junior hockey player. In five years with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Edmonton Oil Kings (2009-10 to 2013-14), he scored 111 points in 209 games as a defenceman. He was a plus player each of those years and added another 28 points in 57 playoff games.

In 2012, he was named captain of the Oil Kings. In 2014, he made the WHL East Second All-Star Team, was named WHL Playoff MVP, and won the Memorial Cup – the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) championship — with the Oil Kings. In both 2012 and 2014, his Oil Kings won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL playoff champions. In 2012, he was chosen to play for Team Orr in the CHL Top Prospects Game.

Internationally, he had similar success. In 2011, he scored seven points in six games for the Canada Pacific team in the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. In 2012, he made the Canadian team for the International Under-18 hockey tournament. He followed that up by making the Team Canada Under-20 World Junior Championship team in both 2013 and 2014, scoring three points in nine games. He also played in the 2012 and 2013 CHL Canada-Russia series.

Elite Prospects called him, “A large defenseman with solid skills at both ends of the ice. A strong player  …  Defensively sound. Gives a good first pass and skates well considering his large frame … is capable of handling big minutes.”

Griffin Reinhart Edmonton Oil Kings
Griffin Reinhart’s promise translated to the junior international stage but not higher. (Shoot the Breeze Photography)

Draft Site raved about him:

“Huge player with huge upside. A big man who skates exceptionally well and has turns. Moves laterally with the fluidity of an average size player. Very cool under pressure and a very good ice general whose vision allows him to make the right play. Rarely beaten one on one due to his size. He has a strong shot from the point and is excellent at reading where to go with the puck. Can pass the puck on offense better than most. His bread and butter is his ability to move the puck up ice using his speed and accurate passing. He uses his size to be an aggressive physical force in his defensive zone … filled with upside.”

My NHL Draft agreed:

“The sky is the limit for 2012 NHL Draft prospect Griffin Reinhart. This six-foot four, two-hundred-pound blueliner from the Edmonton Oil Kings has all the tools needed to have a successful pro career … Griffin thinks that one of his strong points is his shot … but scouts will also tell you that his mobility on the ice is another strength. Reinhart likes to think that he could be the next Shea Weber, and at this rate there is certainly a possibility that he could be just that.”

The Rubber Hits the Road

How much of that promise did Reinhart turn into reality? Enough to play 37 NHL games and score two assists. He added 81 more points in 278 American Hockey League games. In 33 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL)  games, he managed just two more assists.

Related: Worst Trades in Oilers History

That’s not nearly enough production from a 4th overall pick. By any measure, he was a failure. Reinhart wasn’t the only 2012 Draft disaster, however. In case we forget, Nail Yakupov, considered one of the all-time worst 1st overall draft picks, was also taken in 2012.

Nail Yakupov
Nail Yakupov was another 2012 Draft disaster. (Wikimedia Commons)

Quant Hockey has the NHL statistics for the three players chosen ahead of Reinhart in 2012:

1Nail YakupovEdmonton OilersF3506274136142-89
2Ryan MurrayColumbus Blue JacketsD347159511010413
3Alex GalchenyukMontreal CanadiensF549135185320201-58
NHL totals for the three players chosen ahead of Reinhart in the 2012 draft.

In contrast, here are Reinhart’s career NHL totals:

4Griffin ReinhartNew York IslandersD3702226-5
Reinhart’s NHL career never gained traction.

Here are the NHL career totals for the rest of players taken in the 1st Round after Reinhart:

5Morgan RiellyToronto Maple LeafsD51754216270127-40
6Hampus LindholmAnaheim DucksD5025014319325675
7Mathew DumbaMinnesota WildD4116211217422527
8Derrick PouliotPittsburgh PenguinsD2028404881-35
9Jacob TroubaWinnipeg JetsD4784915720635825
10Slater KoekkoekTampa Bay LightningD14972229866
11Filip ForsbergWashington CapitalsF45816718635320027
12Mikhail GrigorenkoBuffalo SabresF21722426430-26
13Radek FaksaDallas StarsF351606812821515
14Zemgus GirgensonsBuffalo SabresF4896177138130-53
15Cody CeciOttawa SenatorsD4963393126108-53
16Tom WilsonWashington CapitalsF52278110188102730
17Tomas HertlSan Jose SharksF453132148280135-1
18Teuvo TeräväinenChicago BlackhawksF428911982897254
20Scott LaughtonPhiladelphia FlyersF3214462106172-11
21Mark JankowskiCalgary FlamesF20836286459-13
22Olli MäättäPittsburgh PenguinsD427299512411861
23Michael MathesonFlorida PanthersD299335891157-30
25Jordan SchmaltzSt. Louis BluesD4205512-7
26Brendan GaunceVancouver CanucksF1186101647-7
27Henrik SamuelssonPhoenix CoyotesF30002-2
28Brady SkjeiNew York RangersD3142588113174-29
29Stefan MatteauNew Jersey DevilsF73551032-14
30Tanner PearsonLos Angeles KingsF45710810721513224
Very few players taken in the 1st round of the 2012 draft have performed worse than Reinhart.

There were also two goalies chosen:

19Andrei Vasilevski1994Tampa Bay LightningG260159-73.9192.55
24Malcolm Subban1993Boston BruinsG6630-22.8992.97
Subban has performed nowhere near as well as Vasilevski.

An awful lot of good hockey players were chosen after Reinhart. There are probably only three other players in the first round who have performed as badly. Given a “do-over,” the Islanders would probably take a chance on any of the other 29 over Reinhart.

Fair Market Value

What kind of performance should a team expect from a 4th overall draft pick? Here’s a list of comparables in the past decade.

2010Ryan JohansenColumbus Blue JacketsC660144298442405
2011Adam LarssonNew Jersey DevilsD54721106127323
2012Griffin ReinhartNY IslandersD3700226
2013Seth JonesNashville PredatorsD52460198258168
2014Sam BennettCalgary FlamesC3646365128300
2015Mitch MarnerToronto Maple LeafsR30083208291102
2016Jesse PuljujarviEdmonton OilersR13917203740
2017Cale MakarColorado AvalancheD5712385012
2018Brady TkachukOttawa SenatorsL142434689181
2019Bowen ByramColorado AvalancheD
2020Lucas RaymondDetroit Red WingsL
Reinhart compared to other 4th overall picks in the last decade.

But Wait, There’s More!

How much would you pay for a 4th overall pick like Reinhart? Like in the K-Tel record and Ginsu knife commercials, wait, there’s more. Sometimes, good players need a new environment to reach their potential and sometimes, instead, they’re singled out by former Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli.

At the 2015 Entry Draft, Chiarelli traded his team’s 16th and 33rd overall picks to the Islanders for Reinhart. Those picks turned into Mathew Barzal and Mitchell Stevens.

2015Mathew Barzal16NY IslandersC23459148207126
2015Mitchell Stephens33Tampa Bay LightningC3833610
Barzal and Stevens are what Chiarelli could have had instead of Reinhart.

In 29 games with the Oilers in 2015-16, Reinhart managed just one assist. He was headed out of town only slightly ahead of Chiarelli.

It Gets Even Worse

When the Vegas Golden Knights joined the NHL in 2017-18, each NHL team submitted a list of players they wanted to protect in the expansion draft and those which were available. The Golden Knights managed the draft so well that they went to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of operation. Choosing Reinhart from the Oilers’ roster was the exception to that excellence.

Seth Jones #3 of the Columbus Blue Jackets
Seth Jones, Adam Larsson and Cale Makar are examples of what 4th overall defencemen should become. (Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Oilers protected Leon Draisaitl (F), Jordan Eberle (F), Zack Kassian (F), Mark Letestu (F), Milan Lucic (F), Patrick Maroon (F), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (F), Oscar Klefbom (D), Adam Larsson (D), Andrej Sekera (D), and Cam Talbot (G).

Left unprotected and available to the Golden Knights were David Desharnais (F), Justin Fontaine (F), Matt Hendricks (F), Roman Horak (F), Jujhar Khaira (F), Anton Lander (F), Iiro Pakarinen (F), Tyler Pitlick (F), Zach Pochiro (F), Benoit Pouliot (F), Henrik Samuelsson (F), Bogdan Yakimov (F), Mark Fayne (D), Andrew Ference (D), Mark Fraser (D), Eric Gryba (D), David Musil (D), Jordan Oesterle (D), Griffin Reinhart (D), Kris Russell (D), Dillon Simpson (D), Laurent Brossoit (G), and Jonas Gustavsson (G).

Edmonton Oilers Cam Talbot Kris Russell
Kris Russell would have been a better choice for the Golden Knights than Reinhart. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Doing the Oilers, but not themselves, a favour, the Golden Knights chose Reinhart. Any of Hendricks, Khaira, Pitlick, Oesterle, Russell or Brossoit would have been better choices. Reinhart never played for the expansion team, but was sent to their minor-league affiliate Chicago Wolves where, in 135 games, he put up 28 points over two seasons. In 2019-20, he signed with the KHL Kunlun Red Star in Beijing, managing just two assists in 33 games.

Reinhart’s Final Cost

Between them, the Islanders and Oilers spent a 4th overall pick, a 16th overall pick and a 33rd overall pick to acquire Reinhart while the Golden Knights passed up the entire bottom half of the Oilers’ roster for a player who managed two NHL career points. Has any other player in the salary-cap era cost so much in assets for so little production? Or am I missing someone?