It is no secret that a good chunk of the Edmonton Oilers fan base was not overly pleased with the organization’s decision to part with a first and second round pick at last summer’s Entry Draft in order to acquire defenceman Griffin Reinhart from the New York Islanders. To make matters worse, Peter Chiarelli decided to try to sell the former Edmonton Oil Kings captain as an NHL ready prospect after pulling the trigger on the deal and not surprisingly, it has led to the 22-year old becoming a whipping boy of sorts in this neck of the woods.
Reinhart likely to play 1st NHL game since Nov. 25 on Saturday vs NSH. https://t.co/4iVWf17BlQ
— Jack Michaels (@EdmontonJack) January 22, 2016
After watching the organization give up the No. 16 and No. 33 selections in the draft and hearing the new general manager go on at great length about Reinhart’s potential, few were expecting him to be assigned to the AHL and certainly not after just 12 appearances. In actuality, it was a move that should have surprised absolutely no one and yet it seemed to catch many off guard. Funny how putting unrealistic expectations on a kid can change things in the blink of an eye.
Not Much Has Likely Changed Since November
After being officially recalled from the Bakersfield Condors on Friday morning as a replacement for the injured Brandon Davidson, the fourth overall pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft will be given another opportunity to prove his worth. With that said, one can easily make the argument that the Oilers backend is actually in worse condition now than it was when Reinhart was sent down, so perhaps proceeding with caution may be the best course of action this time around.
[Related Article: Reinhart Could Be In for A Rough Ride]
With both Davidson and Oscar Klefbom out with injuries and Darnell Nurse already being asked to take on a bigger role than he is ready for, adding another inexperienced defenceman into the mix likely isn’t going to help things. However, that is the situation Edmonton currently finds itself in and that is not Reinhart’s fault. Calling him up makes perfect sense but since he has played all of 14 games with Bakersfield since joining the Condors in late November, my guess is his shortcomings will still be evident…and that is completely ok.
Let’s not forget we are talking about a player who has dressed for 20 games in the NHL and played a grand total of 73 in the AHL. As far as sample sizes go, that is about as small as it gets. Are we really starting to draw conclusions on a kid who has barely got his feet wet at the pro level? While it is certainly fair to question Chiarelli’s thought process in moving draft picks for a young left-handed defenceman, when they already had the trio of Klefbom, Nurse, and Andrej Sekera in place but by no means does that make Reinhart a bust.
[Related Article: Chiarelli Continues To Reshape Oilers Roster]
Does it hurt that the Islanders used the No. 16 pick to grab a kid as talented as Mathew Barzel? It certainly does but again, that is on the GM…not the guy wearing the No. 8 on his back. So here we are. One game away from the NHL All-Star break and the Edmonton Oilers are about to embark on Act II of the Griffin Reinhart saga and one can only hope the kid is given a chance to find his way before the masses pounce in search of their pound of flesh.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.