The Choice


The Choice

This is quite possibly the biggest and most important decision that the Edmonton Oilers will have to make before the season starts.

The choice between Griffin Reinhart and Brandon Davidson. Now I could very well have thrown Darnell Nurse’s name in the mix also (who doesn’t like a good three-way?). But I have a feeling that the Oilers are already so high on him that he sticks with the team. Unless of course, he has an absolutely dismal training camp. Which I just don’t see happening, not with him being a year older, more experienced, bigger, meaner and nastier. Now I’m not saying that Davidson or Reinhart won’t be coming in more experienced or better, themselves. Not at all, it’s just that, I believe that Nasty Nurse is already invited to the party just based on his high-profile prospect status, and his draft pedigree. Plus, Chiarelli loves him some mean and nasty. I also believe that Chiarelli will be giving Reinhart every opportunity possible to right the “trade”! But Nurse, in my opinion, is all but guaranteed a roster spot.

Which brings us onto these two, Griffin Reinhart and Brendan Davidson. Now if it was up to the fan base to call the shots, it would be a no-brainer. Davidson in, Reinhart out. Brendan Davidson won over the fans hearts with his hard work in his surprising, out of nowhere, breakout season. Plus, who doesn’t love a good ol’ underdog/comeback story? Rudy, Rudy, Rudy!!! Griffin Reinhart, on the other hand, has been unfairly chastised since the day Peter Chiarelli traded for him. So if all of the armchair GM’s had it their way, Reinhart would be soaking up the California sun in Bakersfield. Or even playing for a different organization if some people were in charge lol! But that’s the thing, we’re not the ones making these tough decisions.

I was speaking with Walter Foddis over at the BLH office water cooler (@waltlaw69 is one of our fantastic, analytics-driven writers here at BLH), and he had this to say, “…Davidson was our best defensemen on some metrics…”. I don’t know about you, but I find that pretty interesting, and it also speaks volumes about the type of player that the Oilers have in Davidson. Reinhart himself is also a very interesting prospect. Whom Peter Chiarelli was hoping to be more game ready when he gave up a king’s ransom to acquire him.

So I decided to take a look at each player individually and then compare the two. Now Davidson obviously spent a lot more time in the big show than Reinhart, so we’ll use what available information that we have for both.

One thing I should note, and this also something that I find particularly interesting. Griffin Reinhart was drafted in the 1st round of the 2012 draft, 4th overall to be exact. Brandon Davidson, well he was drafted in the 6th round of the 2010 draft, and 162nd overall. Sheesh…not much of a difference there, huh? Only a matter of 158 draft spots, you know, no biggie.

Alright, let’s start with Griffin Reinhart…

Griffin Reinhart

Griffin Reinhart was acquired via trade by the Edmonton Oilers on the 2015 draft floor. Peter Chiarelli traded the 16th and 33rd picks in the 2015 draft to the New York Islanders to acquire Reinhart. The trade has been criticized, scrutinized, and chastised since the moment it took place. For example, that 16th overall pick turned into Matthew Barzal, a fantastic young, up and coming player. Who a lot of Oilers fans would’ve much rather seen in the system, instead of Griffin.

Now myself, I think that it’s more than fair to examine the trade, pick it apart, etc… But what I don’t think is fair, is the constant bashing of Reinhart himself. It’s not as if he orchestrated the trade all on his own, and it was Chiarelli who made it worse for him by saying that he expected Reinhart to step right in and be in the starting lineup.

I believe that there is a great 2nd or 3rd pairing defender here, just waiting to break out. Remember there’re no two prospects who develop the same, everyone is different. Also, we all know that defenders seem to take a tad bit longer to hit their stride, so patience people, he’ll get there. In fact, I’m predicting that barring any injuries, Reinhart will take a major step forward this year, book that sh*t!

Alright, let’s take at the player himself, and see why he deserves to be in the starting lineup come October. Now Griffin isn’t a flashy player, never has been, and honestly I don’t think that he ever will be. But what he is, is a steady stay at home presence who can make a fairly decent first-pass. He’s never been a big point producer, in fact, his best offensive output came in his 2nd full season in the WHL playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings. In that season, he played 58 games and scored 12 goals and ended up with 36 points. Not too shabby at all. But he hasn’t been able to translate that success into his NHL game yet, nor has he been dominant at the AHL level. I’m not saying he’s a pylon, not at all. He just hasn’t found what works for him in the NHL. But like I said earlier, there’s definitely a player there.

Last year for Bakersfield he put up 10 points in 30 games, which is good for .333ppg. Also, he was a solid +2 in those games. That’s not bad for a defenseman who wasn’t really brought on to be a big producer. Reinhart’s bread and butter is his defense, let’s not forget.

So how did he do though playing for the actual Oilers? Well, it definitely wasn’t as well as his showing on the farm, he did play 29 games and put up a single assist. He also had 20 penalty minutes to go along with a -6 rating. Ok, so the offense definitely wasn’t there but he did grind out 62 hits and blocked 46 shots. That to me is a sign of who Griffin Reinhart is, and will become. He averaged over 2 hits per game, and well over a block per game. Also, once he gets more confident in his game, we’re going to see that nice first-pass of his start to show up.

But he’s steadily becoming a solid, stay at home force on the backend. As he grows his game, and uses that big body of his more, he’s going to become the defenseman that forwards hate to see between them and the net. If we could see more hits, more blocked shots, a steady first-pass, and some work on his foot speed. Then I think people might actually cool down on the trade, and appreciate the player we received.

His Corsi For % was 46.9(CF) last year, and his Offensive Zone Starts % was 52.7(oZS). So yes, there’s definitely room for improvement there. He definitely needs to improve his possession numbers, and I believe that you’ll see that this year, as his confidence grows.

Another good thing going for Reinhart, is that he does have experience playing the right side of the “D”, which is still a giant, epic glaring hole for the Oilers. So all in all, what is it the Oilers need? To stop bleeding goals, right? So how about a giant defenseman that blocks shots, hits bodies, and is working on a decent first-pass. Not only that, he’s only going to hopefully get better from here. I mean, we all know about the famous hockey bloodlines of the Reinhart family by now, right?

My final take is that we have a solid, stay at home defenseman who isn’t afraid to lay his body on the line. He also hasn’t lived up to his potential yet, so I believe the best is yet to come. Something also tells me that Reinhart may have a bit of a “chip on his shoulder” this year. So I have a feeling that we’re going to see a much feistier, and hungry version of Reinhart this year, considering all of the competition in the “leftorium” (thanks LT!).

reinhart 1 reinhart 2

Brandon Davidson

Brandon Davidson…Brando…Marlon Brando? The Godfather? Brandon Davidson is The Godfather? My mind is blown! But seriously, what is not to like about possibly the biggest surprise of the ‘15/16 season? Out of nowhere, Davidson came in and was a complete ray of hope for the Oilers. Fans really attached themselves to Davidson’s underdog story and heart & soul style of play.

For an Oilers team that has, for the most part, struck out after the first round of the draft. To have a player of Brandon’s calibre emerge from the sixth round is a Godsend to a defensively starved organization.

So who is Brandon Davidson, and what kind of damage did he do last season. Well for starters, he played 51 games and averaged 19:12 minutes per game. To go along with that, he scored 4 goals and finished with 11 points. That’s some decent production ladies and gentlemen and to top it all off, he finished with a +7 rating on the Oilers defense. Then you throw in the fact that he had a 52.1CF% (wow!) with only a 49.3oZS%, yes people, there is a really awesome player here. Don’t forget he had 74 hits and 92 blocked shots in those 51 games.

So what we see here, is a very solid two-way defenseman that also possesses a nice first pass, who is very competent and trustworthy. Brandon is also 25 years old, so he’ll be just coming into his prime. Davidson demonstrates a high hockey IQ as well and rarely seems to be caught out of position.

One thing that I’d like to see more of from him, is his shot from the point. There were times last year when Davidson let a howitzer fly, and if he could take that and focus on the power-play. Then the Oilers PP Quarterback issues may be answered.

Personally, I see a lot of positives with Davidson, and boatloads of potential. I mean, to have a 52.1CF% on the Oilers D….well, that’s facking magical! Let’s see, strong possession metrics, solid offense, he’s not afraid to put his body on the line, and great two-way play.

davy 1 davy 2

The Choice”

Well, it honestly seems like a complete no-brainer to me, but obviously, Brandon Davidson deserves the spot in the lineup over Reinhart. What he showed last year, was an absolutely beautiful breakout campaign. The best part about it is the fact that it came out of nowhere, and was totally unexpected. Whereas Reinhart came over with a ton of expectations, and well, he didn’t quite deliver as hoped. But as I mentioned earlier, there’s a fantastic, solid player within Griffin that is waiting to break out. I already said to “book it”, that he takes a major step forward this year. I personally believe it is going to happen, as long as he keeps blocking shots, works on his first pass, and works on being more physical.

Then we have a solid defenseman finding his way probably sooner than later. Davidson on the other hand, he’s a bonafide NHL defender in the NOW! And a damn good one! Which is why I choose him. Plus, Walter was right when he said that Davidson was our best defenseman in some metrics (holy understatement Walt!), check this shit out:

oilers d

Well folks, that wraps up this post. Are y’all getting pumped for the World Cup or what? I know I’m super stoked to watch McDavid dangle through Team Canada, and light the lamp!

Stay tuned, and stay weird!!!!

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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!