Max Reinhart’s Moment of Truth

A year ago, Max Reinhart was in tough in the Calgary Flames organization after a not-great first year of professional hockey. Now with a really great AHL season under his belt and some NHL experience, now is the time for Max Reinhart to make the jump to becoming a full-time NHLer.

Because after this season, there might not be many more chances for him within the Flames organization.

Max Reinhart was drafted by the Flames in the 2010 NHL Draft and turned pro in 2012 after a pretty solid junior career, putting up 235 points in 266 games and having steady progression throughout his time with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice. His NHLE grew progressed: from 10.7 (at 16), 17.4 (at 17), 27.4 (at 18) …to 31.4 (at 19).

The eldest son of ex-Flame Paul Reinhart had a not-great professional debut season in 2012-13. Suiting up for 67 AHL games with the Abbotsford Heat, he put up a decent-if-unspectacular 21 points and a woeful minus-26 rating playing a two-way role and primarily being thrown to the wolves in terms of quality of competition and zone starts. He got into 11 NHL games near the end of the season when the Flames traded away Jarome Iginla and began the rebuild in earnest.

After his first pro season, many were scratching their heads when trying to reconcile Reinhart’s bad first year.

Thankfully, he seemed to turn a corner in 2013-14 in his second pro season. Deployed in mostly the same manner by Abbotsford coach Troy Ward, Reinhart’s numbers were much, much better. He put up 63 points in 66 games and tripled his goal total from 7 to 21. He lead the Heat in scoring and was 12th in the entire AHL in points. He got 8 games in with the Flames and was perfectly fine, but he was a superb AHLer.

2014-15 will be the final year of Reinhart’s entry-level deal. He really needs to make this year count for a handful of reasons.

  1. Max Reinhart, along with John Ramage, Bill Arnold and Michael Ferland, is part of the final draft class overseen by Darryl Sutter. While it’s still unclear what Arnold and Ferland are at the pro level, it’s possible that Flames GM Brad Treliving may see Reinhart as a previous regime’s asset (heck, two regimes ago) and look to cash out so he can invest time and money in his own people. Ferland may get a bit of a reprieve because he’s so physically gifted.
  2. Reinhart has 19 NHL contests under his belt. Outside of Sven Baertschi and Sean Monahan, Reinhart’s played the most NHL games of recent picks. We’re hitting the point where the team decides whether he’s an NHLer or not. And since he lacks the cache of a shiny first round pick like Baertschi, they may give Reinhart less of a leash. Heck. look at Roman Horak and Greg Nemisz; neither proved to be an NHL talent in this organization by the last year of their entry-level deals, so they were shipped away for assets.
  3. Reinhart is likely gunning for a bottom-six spot. Players joining the pro ranks in recent times who are now competing with him for the same jobs include: Corban Knight, Michael Ferland, David Wolf, Bill Arnold, Ben Hanowski and Kenny Agostino. Of these guys, Hanowski and Knight have one year of pro under their belts after playing shorter NCAA seasons, and Wolf, Arnold, Agostino and Ferland still need to prove they can withstand the rigors of the long schedule and the accompanying travel. Reinhart has two full seasons under his belt, and has the advantage of being in pro shape. He won’t have that advantage once his entry-level deal runs out, and he’ll be a fourth-year player fighting for jobs against a bunch of kids, at least some of which will have impressive seasons this year in Adirondack.

There are two or three NHL jobs available in September. Max Reinhart needs to prove to Flames management that he’s worthy of one of them, because the opportunity probably won’t be there for him next season.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Very good assessment Pike!

    I like Max Power, but I don’t see him as a Flame for long, given all the other options around him. I’d love to see him make the big after the first injury on a wing or at center. With luck he turns into decent trade-bait.

  • Lordmork

    Max Reinhart is 22 right now, and as I recall, he was given very limited minutes during his 8 games with the Flames. He’s improved immensely over the precious season. Obviously, it’s to the team’s advantage to make prospects compete for the NHL jobs, but does the structure of the contract limit require teams to give up on players too soon?

    If Reinhart doesn’t make the Flames out of camp, but he’s a bottom-six talent, and also the kind of guy who can put up points in the AHL, isn’t that the sort of guy the Flames would want to stock the baby Flames with, while hoping that he develops further and to serve as an injury replacement? I guess I’m not sure why you’d trade him for the kind of asset I feel like you’re likely to get back, because it feels like he can serve a useful role.

  • PrairieStew

    His improvement last year makes him stand out far above Horak and Nemisz, neither ever produced at that level. That’s what you like to see – the steady progression. I think it very accurate that he is competing with Arnold and Knight for that 4th line position. I’d love to see him at centre with Bouma and Bollig. If Arnold and Knight push him, and Granlund continues his arc then I would rather see the team move Stajan than any of these guys.

    • PrairieStew

      He played mostly on the wing and most of his success was with Granlund. If Rhino is to make this team it will be on the wing the following centers are ahead of him; Stajan, Backs, Monahan, Granlund, Knight, Byron and probably Arnold.

      The best way to develop this team is to roll 4 lines and put players in the position to develop and properly assess them.

  • redhot1

    The fact is, Flames have too many centres in the organization. While MR is probably good enough for a full season in the NHL, it just might not be on the Flames. That being said, I hope he could sneak on as the fourth line centre.

    But, due to the glut, one of either Reinhart or Granlund will probably be moved this season. Unless one of them can adapt to play RW (they both shoot left).

    • Derzie

      Reinhart has been playing RW for most of the last two seasons. Granlund is not a stranger to playing on the wing either (and personally I think he’s better suited to the right side anyway with that shot of his).

      • redhot1

        I thought it was lw, the playoff line was he,Granlund and Poirier and I thought Poirier plated on the right; but I could be wrong.

        Here is the issue for Max and I think the other prospects that are close to and may be NHL ready; we have 8 established NHL forwards and coaches trust veterans more than prospects. We have 4 guys who emerged as NHL regulars last season and again coaches ply who they trust. Unless there is an intentional plan or the prospects clearly dominate during camp and preseason we will likely see mostly veterans. personally I would like to see Johnny, Sven and Granlund each play over 50 NHL games this year(we really need to see if they can play at this level and what they really are and I think 50 games would clarify this) I would also like to see Rhino, Knight,and Ferland get 25+ games as well so we have a better idea of what they are. Note; I just don’t want to a give them these games they have to earn them. For this to happen one the Flames have to have a plan to include them, they have to move some vets, or there has to be some injuries. I for one would like to see a plan that includes the prospects in the roster.

        • SmellOfVictory

          While there are a number of vets on the team, a couple of them may well get moved at the deadline for draft picks (hopefully), opening a couple more spots for prospects.

          • Derzie

            I agree but I think we are at an interesting point in the rebuild although it is only year 2. The oilers model of throwing the number 1’s to the wolves has yet to work(not enough of the right vets to hold them accountable) the Detroit model of letting them over ripen is only applicable if you have enough high end talent on your big team. we have potential high end and maybe even an elite prospect or two that need to become NHL players without having to carry the team and the best way IMO is to play them with vets and in somewhat sheltered circumstances early in the season and hopefully watch them progress this year and next.

            Let’s honestly look at our established NHL forwards, are any of them top 3, honestly no. Are any of them 4-6 and a case could be made for Hudler and Backs. Stajan, Glenx,Raymond, Bollig are 7-9’s(DJones could be but not based upon his last two seasons) and McG is 10-12 situational player at best.

            Our emerging forwards from last year are Monahan who will likely be a 4-6 but hopefully will be a 1-3. Colborne, Byron and Bouma are at best 4-9’s.

            Our hopes for 1-3 and more 4-6 are in our prospects and none of them are ready for that role or pressure yet, Bennett, Johnny, and possibly Sven are 1-3 prospects while Granlund, Poirier,Klimchuk, Ferland,and Klimchuk are likely 4-6 and after that we have a lot of 7-9’s who might be able to play higher at times. If a team could roll 4 line of made up of mostly 4-6 with a handful of 7-9’s I think they could be very competitive.

            Which vets are the most desirable for other teams: Backs, Hudler, Glenx, and possibly Stajan.(I have intentionally left off any defenders)

          • SmellOfVictory

            The most obvious trade chips to me, in terms of expendability and potential value, are Hudler, Glencross, Stajan, and Jones. Obviously you don’t want to drop all those guys, but you could remove two from the team and it would still have a decent supporting framework of vets on it. I also think Smid should be moved, because he sucks but teams seem to think he’s still good.

        • The Last Big Bear

          Agree. In fact it would be nice to set a target range of NHL games for each prospect to play this year which would optimally support their development. Might look something like:

          40-50 NHL games
          Granlund, Gaudreau, Baertschi, Wotherspoon

          25-35 NHL games
          Reinhart, Knight, Arnold, Sieloff

          10-20 NHL games
          Agostino, Ferland, Van Brabant, Wolf, Poirier, Klimchuk, Ortio

          3-9 NHL games
          Kanzig, Kulak, Culkin, Cundari, Ramage, Roy, Harrison, Hanowski

          • SmellOfVictory

            I suspect that cundari plays more and I would put Ferland one group higher. Klimchuk won’t play that many as he will likely play in the WHL, by his and Kanzigs bd they can only play junior or NHL and IMO neither are ready for full time NHL, Bennett could also earn his 9 games.

    • The Last Big Bear

      To many centers, was it not two seasons ago where we had to play Tangauy or Cammi at center. What we have is a lot of unknowns at center that need to compete for the spots.

  • MonsterPod

    I don’t know what to make of Reinhart. Obviously I hope he does well, progresses, and works out. Maybe he’ll be our new David Moss.

    Sidenote: Jake Gardiner just signed with TO, 5 years, 4.05M per.

    Burke needs to text Nonis and get a copy of that exact contract and have Brodie scribble it pronto.

  • seve927

    I’d like to see Knight get that 4C job. I think Bollig, Bouma, Knight could make a good defensive specialist line for DZ faceoffs on Knight’s strong side. I’m not huge on FO%, but the Flame’s has been bad enough that it’s an area I’d highlight as a goal for big improvement this year. A good RHS faceoff specialist would be a perfect role for Knight.

  • SmellOfVictory

    Even if he doesn’t make the team right out of the gate, spending a few more months playing top minutes in the A will likely benefit him and he would be a likely call-up.

    There will likely be a lot of movement between CGY and the farm as players get their auditions. I like this approach as it allows us to further season our prospects while really ensuring that we know what we have.

    He has all season to earn his spot on the team.

  • redhot1

    I definitely think Granlund and Reinhart have until the end of the season to make the team. Both could use more time in the AHL while being called up as injury replacements and then hopefully be full time after the trade deadline when another vet or 2 are moved. I certainly don’t think they need to make the roster out of training cmap nor do I think they will.

    I would love to see Calgary’s 3rd and 4th lines stocked with some mix of Byron, Bouma, Reinhart, Ferland, Arnold, Knight, Hanowski and Agostino.

    • redhot1

      Agree completely, though I think Granlund will have a longer lease as he seems to have more upside potential. Also I would like to see at least 4 vets moved by the TDL, opening up spaces for youngsters who should be ready for their make-it or break-it moments.

      Of the prospects, I think Ferland, Hanowski and Knight have the most to lose as they are closest to the edge, and need to have very good seasons to let it be known they are keepers. I don’t know much about Ferland but others seem to think he could be a very good power forward with scoring potential. Hanowski has definitely improved since becoming a Flame, but whether he can find his niche and outperform others remains to be seen. Knight I like the most of these three. He seems the best defensively, great on face-offs, can score and has been the catalyst for Sven in the AHL so seems to make those around him better. Because he isn’t flashy and somewhat reserved I believe he’s not getting the credit he deserves. He needs a shot. Also as a FA signing I don’t think it backs up the Flames’ storyline that this team is wide open and a great chance to make the NHL if he continues to be buried in the AHL without a legit shot at the big team.

      The same can be said for them all, but perhaps the timeframe isn’t so pressing with others. The Flames need to make room for some prospects, now and as we go forward to be able to best develop and inspire them.

      This needs to definitely be true at training camp with many, many spots open to the best player, whomever that is. If Reinhart, Wolf, Poirier, Gaudreau, Granlund, Knight and etc demonstrate they can play at the NHL level there needs to be room for that to happen, without preconceived notions of timing and etc.

      Of course, this can be a problem re: Salary Cap(Floor) but is imperative for the season. Most of the vets are going to be moving on within a couple of years anyways so let’s not jam up the works trying to sneak into the playoffs with them. Sneak in with a good mixture, including many prospects, OK…. whatever whatever.

      BTW, I know the rules for Salary Floor at the start of the season (1st day need to meet the floor), but not sure what are the rules for the season and end-of-season? Anyone got some insights there?

  • Lordmork

    It seems like Max is getting a little bit lost in the shuffle of all the young skilled players that are up and coming. He’s got to have a great training camp and he’s got to make it tough on the Flames brass for him to stay. Still I think I would prefer to see him in the lineup on a regular basis and I think if he lands a bottom six spot he would make for a better option than some other players.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Although we all love Bouma, there’s a very good chance that Reinhart has more upside, and ends up being the better player in another season or two.

    Arnold would probably be best served by spending a year in the AHL. Same goes for Agostino. Neither of them looked particularly NHL-ready last year (although neither of them was especially bad, either).

    Byron is a tough guy to place on the roster, because even though he’s versatile he’s pretty much an energy player, and the Flames have replaced their energy line with a goon line. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, just the way it is. Byron might be a guy to make that goon line a little bit ‘peppier’, however.

    Granlund is most likely to end up as a winger in the NHL, although I think he would also make a good energy line centre.

    Ferland? Who knows where this kid is going to be at this year. He hasn’t proven that he’s outgrown the AHL yet, so I’d have him there by default unless he really raises his game (unlikely given how much time he’s missed).

    Knight is Reinhart’s biggest competition for an NHL centre spot in my mind. Let ’em duke it out in camp, and may the best player wear the Flaming C.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Although Knight is legion, I think Reinhart is actually the better prospect of the two (both currently and in terms of potential). Knight is one of the guys I’d be most okay with seeing traded.

      • The Last Big Bear

        Like I said, put em head-to-head in camp, and in pre-season.

        Make them battle it out for a solid 3 or 4 weeks against NHLers, and the best man gets the starting spot.

        They’ll make their own case.

  • I am a fan of Rhino. He played great last season and obviously has a lot to offer. I think he’s a great piece for this team even as a bottom 6. I mean, you still need people to fill the bottom 6 (6 to be exact) and who better can you think of that someone like Max Reinhart? No question he is capable of making our top bottom 6ers.

    On the other hand, if you don’t feel the same way, maybe start talking to Buffalo about getting something slightly better in return than you would anywhere else. They need a guy like him for the same reasons the Flames do and he also fits in there for other obvious reasons.

  • Derzie

    I really think Reinhart should be up next year. He can’t learn anything else from the AHL. Lets see if he can make the NHL. I see two available forward spots.I see a battle between Sven and Johnny. Then one between Arnold, Knight and Reinhart