Heading into last night’s 2015 NHL Entry Draft, it was a foregone conclusion who the Edmonton Oilers would be selecting with the first overall pick. Calling out the name of Connor McDavid was not only predictable but also the easy part of the evening for Peter Chiarelli. While the Oilers general manager was a fairly busy man, throwing his hat in the ring on more than a few potential trade fronts, it was the deal he made that ultimately took many by surprise.
#Isles trade Griffin Reinhart to EDM for the 16 and 33 picks.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) June 27, 2015
Acquiring defenceman Griffin Reinhart from the New York Islanders in exchange for the N0. 16 and No. 33 overall picks was a move no one saw coming. By the sounds of it, Chiarelli had been in talks with Garth Snow for some time on the possibility of making the move but it was likely one that was not going to happen unless everything fell into place. Apparently having a shot at grabbing Seattle Thunderbirds centre Mathew Barzal was too good of an opportunity for the Isles to pass up on.
With that being the case, the two sides agreed to pull the trigger on the deal. Unfortunately, that decision left many Oiler fans scratching their heads and wondering what they had just witnessed. What seems to have rustled more than a few feathers across Oilers Nation, is the fact this organization went ahead with the deal with the likes of Barzal, Kyle Connor, Joel Eriksson Ek and Evgeny Svechnikov all still available. Seems reasonable enough to me.
Based on Hamilton deal today, looks like an overpay on Reinhart. He’ll be an important piece but there was quality there after B’s picks. — Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 27, 2015
Going No. 4 In 2012 Doesn’t Mean Much Now
While Reinhart may have been the fourth overall selection of the 2012 Draft, the four names just mentioned arguably all have a much higher ceiling than the North Vancouver native. Contrary to popular belief, the kid does have the skill-set to be a solid NHL defenceman for years to come but chances are it will not necessarily be as a top-flight defender. However, assuming the former Edmonton Oil Kings captain will turn into nothing more than bottom pairing guy is more than a tad premature.
At 21-years of age and a grand total of 67 games at the pro level under his belt, Reinhart is nowhere near being a finished product and could possibly go either way from a developmental standpoint. While the potential may be there, many felt if the Oilers were going to move the No. 16 pick or either one of their second rounders, it was going to be for immediate help at the NHL level. With all due respect to everyone involved, that is not what this deal was.
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Who knows, maybe in the long run this move could prove to be a decent fit, as Reinhart joins fellow youngsters Oscar Klefbom and Darnell Nurse on the depth chart. However, in the here and now it could actually make this blueline even worse than what it was in 2014-15. When you take Jeff Petry out of the mix and don’t replace him with another quality right-handed defenceman but instead look to Reinhart and possibly Nurse for answers, you may not be thrilled with the result.
Another Year Of Assesment In 2015-16
On the surface, at least for the moment, this team seems to be getting younger. As hard as that might be for some to accept, it looks as though that trend will not be coming to an end anytime soon. While one could hardly blame Chiarelli for wanting to the stay the course, especially with McDavid now in place, insulating this blueline with experienced players who can still contribute is an absolute must. Be it via free agency or trade, it simply has to happen.
In my mind, there is zero chance of the Edmonton Oilers not adding pieces over the next month or two. More changes are coming, but perhaps they won’t be as significant as most were hoping they would be. Instead, it could be another year of assessing who and what they are and a bunch of band-aid solutions. Listening to Peter Chiarelli talk after the completion of the first round, you get the sense next summer will be the time this organization pounces and looks to address its roster’s shortcomings.
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.