May 28 2012 10:20AM
Max Reinhart's final junior season this year was neither under nor overwhelming - he didn't blow the doors off a la Sven Baertschi, but he also didn't fall off the map either. The former third rounder led the admittedly punchless Kootenay Ice in scoring this season with 78 points in 61 games and by all accounts was a key cog in just about every situation for his club.
That said, Max was also the oldest of the Flames non-pro prospects and most kids by the time they enter their 20-year old season are carrying the water in the WHL. His output, while good relative to his club, was unimpressive when compared to many of his other peers - for example, Mitch Wahl scored 96 points in his 19-20 year old season and Michael Ferland matched that feat this year (more on him next week).
Parsing the Season
Here is how his numbers broke down this year:
- Total points: 78
- Points-per-game: 1.28
- Powerplay points: 28
- Even Strength points: 44
- Short-handed points: 3
- Total Team offense: 179
- ES%: 56.4
- PP%: 35.9
- Team%: 43.6
- NHLE: 31
Unlike Baertschi, Reinhart's numbers are a mixed bag. He actually contributed to total team offense at a slightly higher rate than Baertschi, but he (and the team) scored less frequently overall. His PPG and NHL equivalency were, of course, much lower than Sven's and middling when compared to the rest of Calgary's prospects (Granlund, Ferland and Gaudreau all also managed superior NHLE's).
To some degree we can write this off as a difference in the quality of the two clubs: Baertschi's Winterhawks scored 106 (!) more goals than Reinhart's Ice during the regular season. Reinhart was the only skater to break 70-points for Kootenay and his younger brother Sam was only the guy to manage more than 60-points. Portland, on the other hand, boasted three 80+ point getters and would have had two 100+ point men had Baertschi played more than 47 games.
That said, Reinhart has never put up anything more that just okay offensive totals in junior (79 was his career high) so we can safely assume he's not going to be a big time scorer at the pro level, even if he lands with a much more potent club at some point.
Reinhart's ticket to the big league will have to be his versatility and his smarts. Every scout or coach who watches him for any length of time notes his ability to read the play and be in the right place at the right time on the ice. Those are invaluable skills if they can be translated at the pro level and to some degree can't really be taught. Plus/minus is a stat that is rightfully condemned, but it's nevertheless notable Reinhart was a consistent plus player during his time in junior: over the last three seasons, his cumulative +/- was +61, including +19 on a low-scoring team this past year. That suggests Reinhart is usually on the right side of the puck and can outscore the bad guys, even if his club isn't putting a ton of pucks in the net.
What is somewhat disconcerting is that all these things were true of Flames former second round pick Mitch Wahl before he entered the pro ranks: he was known for his smarts and versatility, freuqently took on the other team's best players, had a huge cumulative plus/minus in junior but just okay scoring totals. Unfortunately, he fell on his face in the AHL (literally, since he was severely concussed by a big open-ice hit) and has never really found his footing since. Wahl spent the majority of last year in the ECHL and it's going to be a long hike back up the Flames organizational depth chart for him.
It's impossible to know to what degree Wahl's injury cratered his development, but clearly guys like him or Reinhart can go either way when they start playing against men. Here's hoping Max can get over the hump with the Heat next year and begin to develop into a similarly useful pro player.