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.
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.”
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.
Quant Hockey has the NHL statistics for the three players chosen ahead of Reinhart in 2012:
|1||Nail Yakupov||Edmonton Oilers||F||350||62||74||136||142||-89|
|2||Ryan Murray||Columbus Blue Jackets||D||347||15||95||110||104||13|
|3||Alex Galchenyuk||Montreal Canadiens||F||549||135||185||320||201||-58|
In contrast, here are Reinhart’s career NHL totals:
|4||Griffin Reinhart||New York Islanders||D||37||0||2||2||26||-5|
Here are the NHL career totals for the rest of players taken in the 1st Round after Reinhart:
|5||Morgan Rielly||Toronto Maple Leafs||D||517||54||216||270||127||-40|
|6||Hampus Lindholm||Anaheim Ducks||D||502||50||143||193||256||75|
|7||Mathew Dumba||Minnesota Wild||D||411||62||112||174||225||27|
|8||Derrick Pouliot||Pittsburgh Penguins||D||202||8||40||48||81||-35|
|9||Jacob Trouba||Winnipeg Jets||D||478||49||157||206||358||25|
|10||Slater Koekkoek||Tampa Bay Lightning||D||149||7||22||29||86||6|
|11||Filip Forsberg||Washington Capitals||F||458||167||186||353||200||27|
|12||Mikhail Grigorenko||Buffalo Sabres||F||217||22||42||64||30||-26|
|13||Radek Faksa||Dallas Stars||F||351||60||68||128||215||15|
|14||Zemgus Girgensons||Buffalo Sabres||F||489||61||77||138||130||-53|
|15||Cody Ceci||Ottawa Senators||D||496||33||93||126||108||-53|
|16||Tom Wilson||Washington Capitals||F||522||78||110||188||1027||30|
|17||Tomas Hertl||San Jose Sharks||F||453||132||148||280||135||-1|
|18||Teuvo Teräväinen||Chicago Blackhawks||F||428||91||198||289||72||54|
|20||Scott Laughton||Philadelphia Flyers||F||321||44||62||106||172||-11|
|21||Mark Jankowski||Calgary Flames||F||208||36||28||64||59||-13|
|22||Olli Määttä||Pittsburgh Penguins||D||427||29||95||124||118||61|
|23||Michael Matheson||Florida Panthers||D||299||33||58||91||157||-30|
|25||Jordan Schmaltz||St. Louis Blues||D||42||0||5||5||12||-7|
|26||Brendan Gaunce||Vancouver Canucks||F||118||6||10||16||47||-7|
|27||Henrik Samuelsson||Phoenix Coyotes||F||3||0||0||0||2||-2|
|28||Brady Skjei||New York Rangers||D||314||25||88||113||174||-29|
|29||Stefan Matteau||New Jersey Devils||F||73||5||5||10||32||-14|
|30||Tanner Pearson||Los Angeles Kings||F||457||108||107||215||132||24|
There were also two goalies chosen:
|19||Andrei Vasilevski||1994||Tampa Bay Lightning||G||260||159-73||.919||2.55|
|24||Malcolm Subban||1993||Boston Bruins||G||66||30-22||.899||2.97|
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.
|YEAR||4th-OVERALL PICK||TEAM||POSITION||GAMES PLAYED||GOALS||ASSISTS||POINTS||PIM|
|2010||Ryan Johansen||Columbus Blue Jackets||C||660||144||298||442||405|
|2011||Adam Larsson||New Jersey Devils||D||547||21||106||127||323|
|2012||Griffin Reinhart||NY Islanders||D||37||0||0||2||26|
|2013||Seth Jones||Nashville Predators||D||524||60||198||258||168|
|2014||Sam Bennett||Calgary Flames||C||364||63||65||128||300|
|2015||Mitch Marner||Toronto Maple Leafs||R||300||83||208||291||102|
|2016||Jesse Puljujarvi||Edmonton Oilers||R||139||17||20||37||40|
|2017||Cale Makar||Colorado Avalanche||D||57||12||38||50||12|
|2018||Brady Tkachuk||Ottawa Senators||L||142||43||46||89||181|
|2019||Bowen Byram||Colorado Avalanche||D||–||–||–||–||–|
|2020||Lucas Raymond||Detroit Red Wings||L||–||–||–||–||–|
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.
|2015||Mathew Barzal||16||NY Islanders||C||234||59||148||207||126|
|2015||Mitchell Stephens||33||Tampa Bay Lightning||C||38||3||3||6||10|
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.
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).
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?
Darvin Babiuk has worked as a dishwasher, janitor, paper boy, grocery clerk, researcher, historical interpreter, oil and gas trainer and university lecturer. He covers the Edmonton Oilers for The Hockey Writers. Friends and relatives say he has never been the same after the tragic incident at the Moosomin 47th annual Dmitro Petrycyshyn Pickerel and Perogies Cribbage tournament. He has lived more places than Sinbad the Sailor.