Is Griffin Reinhart Chiarelli’s First Mistake?

The Edmonton Oil Kings won the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup championship in London, ON on Sunday May 25, 2014 with a 6-3 win over the Guelph Storm. Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images
Photo by Aaron Bell/CHL Images

As we now know, Griffin Reinhart has been reassigned to the Edmonton Oilers’ minor league affiliate in Bakersfield to make room for the return of Justin Schultz. My question is why was that decision made so easy? Apart from Reinhart still being on his entry level deal, why didn’t he make it harder for Chiarelli to send him down over Darnell Nurse or for Chiarelli to make a trade to accommodate the former 4th overall pick? Surely there was enough time for GR to make a meaningful impact. Is Reinhart all that his junior career and draft status has him cracked up to be? Or is he the next Jared Cowan?

Reinhart is very disappointing.  His results are last and pretty bad with the two main centers right now in RNH and The Deutschland Dangler.  His only CA/60 improvement comes with Lander who is the most marginal center on the team.  Given the price to acquire him, his draft number and the fact that this is his draft +4 year you cannot be happy with these results at all.   To my eye he is a decent Dman when he is “in the play”.  The problem is that he isn’t “in the play” enough due to poor skating and edge work.  His gaps are too big and he backs off the blue line too quickly to make up for his speed.  Down low his meh edge work makes him fairly easy to beat with quick movements.  This young man needs to spend all his free time on his skating and leg strength if he wants to have a NHL career.  He would have been fine in the 90’s.   Not so much in today’s ridiculously fast NHL.  Today he is not a NHL defenseman.

That came from Woodguy’s blog which you can read here. Pretty damning if you ask me.

Chiarelli gave up the no.16 and no.33 picks overall in last year’s draft to acquire Reinhart after seemingly being unable to come to a deal with his former team for Dougie Hamilton. We could probably also assume that a deal for Travis Hamonic also fell through at that same draft.

So those two picks turned out to become Matt Barzal and Charlie Stephens. Two centers for which the Oilers didn’t really need per say after drafting McDavid and Draisaitl but there were other players on the board at those spots that maybe the Oilers could’ve used like offensive defenseman Jeremy Roy or Thomas Chabot (who nearly made the Senators out of camp), goalies Mackenzie Blackwood or Ilya Samsonov, or what about skilled yet character filled forwards like Travis Konecny, Anthony Beauvillier, or Nick Merkley? That being said, one can never have enough elite centers.

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A combination of Matt Barzal, Colin White (who’s putting up Eichel-like numbers in BU this year), and Kyle Connor would’ve also gone a long way.

But if drafting players with those two picks was never in Chiarelli’s plans then why not a trade for a more experienced defenseman that could guide the team’s young blueliners. Not another young player that we’ll be waiting another season or two for? A first rounder and an early second is a very enticing offer at the draft for a GM that is looking to relieve the team of some salary.

Now we know that Griffin Reinhart looks to be a very promising middle to bottom pairing defender right now. We’ve been privy to flashes of his potential so far but my argument is that that timing of this deal and the target was misdirected. The Oilers didn’t need more youth. Did we know that GR would be so slow to adapt to the NHL game, not really. He didn’t exactly light it up last seson. But was it a consideration, of course. The last thing the Oilers need is another slow moving bottom pairing blueliner though. Of course David Musil is apparently having a helluva season in Bakersfield, so one has to wonder if foot speed isn’t THAT big of an issue and Reinhart takes a step back, will that open the door for a different defenseman to step on through.

What we hope is that this is a blip on the radar and like most good defenseman that have long and storied careers in the NHL, they rarely trend upwards in a straight line. Peaks and valleys my friends, peaks and valleys. Here’s to more peaks than valleys with young Griffin.

This was just something that was playing on my mind when I woke up. Let me know how you feel in the comments below!

Take Care!


Beer League Hero Written by:

I’m the Beer League Hero! I am from Camrose, Alberta but I make my home in Taipei City, Taiwan. I’ve been through the ups and downs and the highs and the Lowes, the Bonsignores and the McDavids, the Sathers and the Eakins but I’ll never leave my Oilers, no matter what!

They’re with me until the end and then some. GO OILERS GO!

  • Rick

    How much of the decision weighting was based on advise from Mactavish and Howsen who raved about him.
    If they where the ones pushing hard then when you add it to the other bad decisions those two have made Nikitin etc i wouldn’t be surprised to see them gone before next year,.

    • Beer League Hero

      I’m not sure it was so much them as it was probably Bob Green who was the Oil Kings GM when Reinhart was playing for them…

  • neil

    I think a lot of that decision to send him down had to do with Brandon Davidson, and the fact that they can’t send him down to the minors now that he has to clear waivers.

    • Rick

      I think Branden has been out playing Griffin all year .I think a better case is that he was sent down because of Terrance . I do hope he waives his no trade clause and gets a chance to play some where this year .Probably in the East where he doesnt have to be as mobile

  • Joe

    Seguin was Chiareli’s first huge mistake. Squandering 16 and 33 for Reinhart was his second.