Paul Reinhart and his wife had three children, all boys. The youngest, Samson, is arguably the most gifted with natural hockey talents. The middle child, Griffin, is arguably the most physically gifted in terms of size and strength. But the eldest child, Maxwell, may be the smartest in terms of hockey IQ.
Max, as he is more commonly called, isn’t big by hockey standards, and he’s not the fastest skater, strongest shooter or passer, nor is he particularly exceptional at any one thing. Except for the fact that he’s whip-smart in terms of the game of hockey. He’s just got a knack for being in the right place and the right time, and for working his tail off to get where he needs to be.
Calgary’s first selection – in the third round – in the 2010 Draft, Reinhart has two professional seasons under his belt following a pretty good junior career. Can he make the jump to full-time NHL work?
Reinhart progressed very steadily throughout his junior career. He began as a shittish 16-year-old and developed into one of the more dependable three-zone players in the Western Hockey League. He wore an A for the Kootenay Ice and mentored his little brother Sam, then made the leap to the professional ranks. He also was able to win a WHL Championship and play for the Memorial Cup (albeit his team didn’t win).
The NHLE for the two NHL stints is basically useless, but it’s somewhat notable that in two short stints Reinhart produced a similar NHLE in spot duty on the third and fourth lines. Weird, eh? He does eventually project as a bottom-six player who produces 20-ish points per season, though.
Reinhart’s first pro season wasn’t great. He was used primarily in a checking and shut-down role and he took awhile to get accustomed to the skill and speed difference between the WHL and the AHL. His plus/minus was pretty awful (MINUS 26). He came up to Calgary after the trade deadline and was just fine. He was a lot better this past season in both leagues.
After being merely “okay” in the American League in 2012-13, Reinhart had a superb sophomore year. He tripled his offensive production and generally seemed to have more pep in his step and more confidence with the puck. Granted, some of that has to be that the Heat gave him more to work with, linemate-wise, than he had in the past. But heck, tripling your points cannot be just “linemate effect.”
Reinhart’s shots on goal went up a tiny bit from 2012-13 to 2013-14 – 2.12 per game to 2.51 per game – but his shooting percentage improved WILDLY, going from a woeful 4.9% up to a more realistic 12.6%. Granted, I doubt he was as bad at shooting as he was two years ago or as good at shooting as he was last year, so the real Max Reinhart probably lies somewhere in the middle. And again, that’s where my pegging of him as a 20-25 NHLE player comes from.
Luckily for Reinhart, he learned how to play the wing last season (and played there a bit during his NHL call-up), as it’ll make it more likely for him to get another sniff in the NHL. When he did come up, he wasn’t noticeable for any bad reasons in a depth role and occasionally made a nice play. Reinhart’s game doesn’t lend itself to flashiness at the NHL level, it seems.
Reinhart is now a bonafide professional hockey player, and he’s had a good deal of success in the AHL. The challenge for him will be to (a) improve upon that and (b) prove that’s not a fluke. And it won’t be easy, as while he’s getting even more help this season and it’s unlikely that he’ll have to carry linemates to offensive glory, it’s also likely that he’ll have to compete with his teammates even more than he did last season.
But again, it’s smart that he can play all three forward positions, as it’ll really help give him a chance to bounce around the line-up and be a Jack-of-All-Trades for new coach Ryan Huska.
If I’m Brad Treliving, I want to see Reinhart at the NHL level at some point in 2014-15, if only to evaluate how much he’s progressing. I’d wager Reinhart splits the year between the NHL and AHL again this season, and his combined NHLE falls somewhere between 25 and 30 points.