What the Heck Happened to Max Reinhart?

[Editor’s Note: Folks, please welcome the newest member of our writing family, Mike Cadarette! He’ll be writing about the team’s prospects, among other topics!]

No,
seriously. What the heck happened to him?

It
wasn’t all that long ago that Flames fans were taken by surprise at the type of
2013-14 season Max Reinhart had achieved. If you would’ve guessed that he would
increase his scoring by 42 points and triple his goal total from one season to
the next, you should probably buy more Lotto Max tickets.

The
former Kootenay Ice star finished 12th in AHL scoring last season and led the
Abbotsford Heat in that category. Beyond the points, the first line minutes and
the ample power play time, he emerged as the go-to man in all, and I mean all,
penalty kill and defensive situations. In fact, Reinhart and Markus Granlund became
arguably the most dangerous PK dyad in the American league with their combined
speed and sagely ability to anticipate interception opportunities.

Following
the season, it’s fair to say Reinhart had set himself up to be one of the
front-running young prospects for a bottom six job on the big club. Still, that
didn’t mean it was going to be anything short of an uphill battle, and possibly
his last chance at earning a spot, but he had put himself in a good position
nonetheless.

Jump
ahead to February, 2015.

Not
only is he not in the NHL, he’s been leapfrogged by a handful of other options
on the depth chart, he’s on pace for just a smidgeon above his disappointing
rookie season point totals, he doesn’t seem to have that relentless puck
pursuit from last year, and doesn’t appear to be the same person wearing #25 at
all.

Why,
Max? Why?!

Well,
let’s take a look at what has transpired since this season’s training camp to
find out what the heck happened to him:

DEPTH, DEPTH & MORE DEPTH


Ahh, it seems like just yesterday Flames fans were fuming over the fact that
Jay Feaster had mistaken Roman Cervenka for a centre when he had never been one
in his life, which of course added even more angst towards Calgary’s repulsive
centre depth. Good times.

This season, however, Sean Monahan, Mikael
Backlund, Matt Stajan and (occasional centre) Lance Bouma were locks for the
Flames’ centre spots. That left one potential centre spot for one of Reinhart,
Granlund, Corban Knight (at the time), newly drafted Sam Bennett, and long
shots Josh Jooris and rookie Bill Arnold. We all know who won that spot. Then
Backlund spent a considerable amount of time in the infirmary, so Granlund
became the chosen one to replace him. Reinhart’s not an idiot. He knows when
he’s been passed on the depth chart and that’s exactly what Jooris, Granlund
and Bennett have done.

We can assume there was a considerable amount of frustration
and disappointment from Reinhart. It’s not easy working hard at your job and
having a career year only to be passed by fellow coworkers. It’d be a
disheartening position to be in for anyone.

DREW SHORE

To make matters
worse for Max, GM Brad Treliving dealt Corban Knight to Florida in exchange for
centre Drew Shore, who, some believe, is a player the Flames want in the NHL as
soon as possible and may be there for good post-trade deadline. We’ll see. “Great,”
I would imagine Reinhart maybe might have been thinking, “now they bring in an
outsider who immediately jumps me on the depth chart.” It was an uphill battle
for the 22-year-old to begin with, now they’ve got another gifted AHL all-star centre in the organization. He’ll have a tough time passing Shore.

O MARKUS, WHERE ART THOU?

Thirty-three games. That’s how long Reinhart didn’t have his old partner,
Markus Granlund, by his side. That’s like 33 movies of Woody without Buzz, or
33 episodes of Jerry without George, or 33 Tuesdays without tacos (I love
Tuesdays).

There was a bit of a discussion amongst fans and media members as to
who exactly the catalyst of that duo was. Was Reinhart the one who helped
Granlund shine? Was it Granlund who vaulted Reinhart up the scoring ladder? No
one knew for sure, but it can certainly be argued, now, after several months,
that it’s the latter. When Troy Ward was at the helm, he always spoke of
building his forward lines using ‘pairs’ – duos that demonstrated chemistry
with each other. Max and Markus weren’t just one of those pairs, they were the pair.

But now that Granlund is back
in Adirondack, it seems as though head coach Ryan Huska is either unaware of
their past chemistry or unwilling to try and re-spark it because we’ve barely seen
those two together at all this season. Perhaps Huska feels it’s nonsensical
having two centres on the same line, but Reinhart worked very well as Granlund’s left-hand man last season. Those two need
to be left together to rediscover the chemistry they once had.

CRUSHING EXPECTATIONS

The former regime had this knack of putting their players on a pedestal,
shoveling on weighty expectations in the process. The most well documented and
discussed case, of course, being Sven Baertschi. Another example was arrogantly
proclaiming Mark Jankowski would go on to become one of the best players from
the 2012 draft on national television. Expectations by Jay Feaster and company
were similarly as lofty for Reinhart. It wasn’t a hope that he’d become an NHL
player, he was an NHL player. There’s
little doubt that Reinhart knew of his bosses’ suppositions for him, which is
why, after things didn’t happen the way they were proposed to you, he has the
type of year he’s been having.

The
question now is: what can be done about Max Reinhart?

Lately,
among Flames fans, it’s been bandied about that Reinhart could be a trade chip in a deal for Buffalo forward Chris Stewart.
Why? Because Elliott Friedman spoke of Calgary’s interest in the big power
forward and said,
“a couple of not
big prospects”

could get it done. Reinhart fits fit that bill. Let’s not get
hung up on the Chris Stewart part of my point – it’s the idea that Reinhart
could be an interesting trade chip in the near future.

There
were scouts who regularly attended Heat games and always left impressed
with Reinhart, so the interest was there at one point. It still could be.
Trading him is not out of the question.

However, as easy as
it is to speculate on trades, Reinhart is in control of his own destiny here. If he
no longer wants to be a part of the organization, it’s up to him to generate
external interest. On the other hand, if he still wants to be a part of the Flames’ plans, he has
to show it. Either way, it’s up to him to finish off the season on a
strong note, ignore his current position on the prospect depth chart, and work his way back to the top.

  • MattyFranchise

    Put him on the wing like last season when he got a ton of points. He’s not gonna make the big club as a center, might as well put him on the left side and see what happens. It’s not like this organization is exactly hurting for centers anyway.

    Also, welcome to the site. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  • piscera.infada

    Welcome Mike**, good piece.

    I’ve never been too enamoured with Reinhart as a prospect. He’s kind of a jack of all trades, not great at anything, but not poor at anything. Frankly, I agree, he’s lost his spot in the pecking-order, but as a fan, that’s not a horrible thing. Nor is it a horrible thing for the organization. As such, I think we’ll see him moved eventually. The return is a question mark, as it’s always difficult to get a feel of a prospects true value to other teams. Someone could really be looking for a projected bottom-six centre with a good overall game. The Flames just happen to be flush with those prospects.

    **Edit: Sorry about the “Mark” thing initially… Don’t know where I got that. Wow.

  • The Last Big Bear

    He also hasn’t helped his case by not showing particularly well in his NHL call-ups.

    Not that he was terrible, but a strong showing would at least have given him some benefit of the doubt.

  • Matty Franchise Jr

    Welcome to FN. It’s good to see some new faces in the line up. Like the Wu Tang Clan says, “You’ve got to diversify your portfolio…”.

    Max might want to think about using the Buffalo model. Play well so that you get traded. Not so that he can go to a good team, but so that he can go to a team that can use him.

  • Burnward

    Solid debut sir! I like where your mind’s at when you talk about it being on him to figure it out.

    He may top out as an energy fourth line C/W a la Byron. But that’s okay probably.

    Nice to have someone with eyes on the team out there!

    • RexLibris

      Looks like Bogosian is going along with Kane, if the reports are true.

      I wonder why they didn’t try to send Byfuglien with Kane? 🙂

      This is what Evander Kane is worth – a lot.

      Personally, I’m hoping this deal goes through. It would be a great story for two hockey markets who don’t traditionally get a lot of respect.

      Good move by Buffalo as well because adding Kane right now doesn’t do anything to hurt their draft position and swapping Myers for Bogosian is a break-even move in so far as how it affects the current trend of the organization.

        • RexLibris

          Yep, good for both sides. Murray threw everything in but he keeps his most valuable assets (this year’s higher 1sts, Grigorenko, Ristolainen, etc) and adds pieces that will help next season.

          Good move.

          I’m happy for both fan bases. Winnipeg gets to move on and look forward to the playoffs, and Buffalo fans get to talk about next season with these addition while still staying on track for one of McDavid or Eichel.

          • piscera.infada

            Bogosian’s inclusion seems weird to me. Bogosian is younger than Myers (albeit by 5 months, but was news to me), and he’s a better player in my opinion, with a higher pedigree draft-wise.

          • RexLibris

            Bogosian and Myers are a saw-off. Different types of D, but an exchange in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

            Kane went for a player, two prospects and a 1st round pick. Throwing Myers in let Murray convince Cheveldayoff to do the deal today rather than wait.

            Excellent deal by Murray because it addressed the needs of his trade partner without being predatory.

            The Myers/Bogosian swap depends now on deployment and partnering to determine who wins the exchange.

          • RexLibris

            I don’t see Bogosian/Myers as being a wash. The Bog has a lot more toughness and a better all around game IMO. If you cut his first two years out, Myers has lost a lot of offensive punch which is where his upside lies. Plus he is going to find it a lot tougher sledding out west on the defensive side of his game.

            I agree that Myers will look a lot better next to Byufglien though. Who wouldnt’t??!!

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          If we were to often something comparable to what Buffalo is offering it would be like this:

          Kris Russell,

          Curtis Glencross,

          Markus Granlund or Sven Baertschi,

          Michael Ferland or Morgan Klimchuk,

          Plus our First round pick.

          Our first is likely a higher pick than what Winnipeg will be getting from Buffalo, so either the we offer our 2nd or lower the second prospect added (instead of Klimchuk or Ferland it would be Reinhart or Jankowski)

          Obviously that deal wouldn’t make sense for the Flames given where we are in the standings, but if we were out of the playoffs – would you do that deal for Kane & Bogosian?

  • RexLibris

    Returning to the topic of Reinhart:

    I think he needs either more time or a new organization.

    His value is as a C, and the swamped depth of the Flames right now is not helping him.

    So either they wait another year for the prospect ranks to clear out a little (Granlund, Bennett maybe) or they move him for a defensive prospect or player.

    Take from surplus to address need.

    Everything he has shown thus far suggests that he can play, given the time and opportunity. But I suspect he is one who has to work to succeed because he doesn’t have the same level of innate talent as his siblings.

    • everton fc

      He needs a hang of scenery. Quick. I wonder how Chris Stewart would do here? Would he be an improvement over Colborne/Raymond/Byron? His #’s are similar to Jones, and he’s 3 years younger. But I like Jones, I lil egis game and his commitment to “team”. Is Stewart a team guy? I wonder…

  • Good job Mike! Welcome!

    I have to stand & applaud the deal between Buffalo & Winnipeg. I hope BT is paying attention because what Murray did was take big cazone’s to do that deal. Buffalo have some pretty decent young 1st rounder defensemen developing nicely. The Myers rumours didn’t make sense as I saw him anchoring their young up & coming defenders. Buffalo have lots of picks & will be stocking the shelves a lot this summer. Most important, they will get either Mcdavid or Eichel. Oilers did nothing, were afraid to trade some highly touted players when they were fresh off the draft & managed to develop a solid losing culture despite 3 1st over alls in a row. Buffalo, plucked Reinhart last year & are about to get there #1 franchise Centre in June who will probably play on their team next fall. What a way to speed up their rebuild than to add Kane & Bogosian who are at that perfect age with where they are at. Winnipeg made out like bandits & took a huge step to making it to the playoffs.

    Calgary needs to seriously look at what will speed up our rebuild because I think we are right there. This trade just changed the landscape a bit. Two big Dmen are off the market that many teams were eyeing. Detroit is desperate for a RH name dman. They don’t like rentals but maybe we can extract a 1st for Wideman whose numbers are really good this year. With that extra 1st, we have the ability to cough up some of this forward depth & throw in the likes of Klimchuk & Reinhart with one of our 1st to get a blue liner for the future as well. We may be ranked high on hockey futures today but the futures can go stale real quick with lack of opportunity ala Reinhart.

    • RexLibris

      I can’t see Calgary moving a defenseman from a thin d-line corps this close to the playoffs.

      Maybe they do, and then acquire someone from another team lower in the standings (Franson, for instance) but at this point I think they are more likely looking at moving a few extraneous pieces to help give them a fighting chance once they are in the playoffs rather than subtracting from the roster.

  • Nick24

    Nice article, Mike! Welcome to Flamesnation!

    Just you wait folks, Max is gonna be great! I don’t think he’ll ever be a top-six forward, like Lance Bouma is, but I think he can defiantly make the NHL!

  • Nick24

    Would Edmonton be interested in adding a guy like Reinhart? I’m sure they realize now that you can never have too many centreman in an organization. Or maybe they’d see him as redundant when they already have Lander?

    But seriously, Mark Arcobello for 41 games last year and 36 more this year, playing significant minutes. smh

  • Könniek

    Welcome to FN Mike.

    I think at this point, trading him to another team in order to get some depth scoring or have him part of a trade to land a deference is probably the best for him and the organization overall.

  • RexLibris

    Hey Walter – check out the Flame prospect link posted on this blog:

    17. (17) Mason McDonald, G, 6.5C
    Drafted 2nd round, 34th overall, 2014

    Through 44 games in the QMJHL, Mason McDonald ranks among the top league goaltenders in goals against average, save percentage, and wins. The 18-year-old goaltender has posted a career-best 2.92 goals against average and his 23 wins are the most he has recorded in a season. McDonald will be heavily relied upon as Charlottetown pushes for post-season action.

    What do you think Walter?

  • everton fc

    The Jets did well with a player they had to jettison. They got some nice pieces back. Pretty even deal.

    Speaking of trades, Sens, Rangers, Devils – all sellers.

    • piscera.infada

      Speaking of trades, Sens, Rangers, Devils – all sellers.

      No one on any of those teams really appeal to me. Unless of course the Rangers are looking to jettison another young captain…

  • smith

    Reinhart? What about Seilof. He seems to have completely disappeared. A healthy scratch a lot it seems.

    Drafting for this team needs to be reworked. Becoming like the oilers. Only draft well at the top of the draft. Really good in Gaudreau year but bad since. Jankowski, Seilof, Kanzig, Roy, Klimchuk, Smith, MacDonald? All very doubtful.

  • EducatedHockeyFan

    An interesting stat to look at for AHL prospects is shot rate. As eyes on the prize writer Stephan Cooper showed in 2012, there is a pretty strong relationship (r ^2 of 0.36) between AHL shot rate and NHL shot rate.

    Reinhart’s Shots/gm:
    12/13 –> 2.12 (142 shots in 67 gms)
    13/14 –> 2.51 (166 shots in 66 gms)
    14/15 –> 2.58 (106 shots in 41 gms)

    Now his personal shooting %s:
    12/13 –> 4.9%
    13/14 –> 12.65%
    14/15 –> 6.6%

    Look at that huge jump in his second year in his sh%. While his shot rate has steadily climbed, which is a promising sign, his sh% has bounced around a ton. Could that be the chemistry with Granlund in 13/14 that led to the high sh%? Or was he just lucky. Interesting to think about.

    • Thanks for this. This is something I had overlooked.

      It is interesting to view this in the light of having not played with Granlund barely at all this season. Granlund is an incredibly gifted playmaker. Having watched (nearly) all of both of their AHL games, Reinhart just lacks something when Granlund’s not by his side.

      Markus was able to tee Max up some gifts last season, so there’s no doubt that he played a part in his SH%.

      Coversely, Reinhart has been playing with such guys as Hanowski, who is decent at the power forward type of game, but can’t thread a pass anything like Granlund can.

      Thanks for your post. Very informative.

      • EducatedHockeyFan

        Glad you appreciated it! Thought the article was great too.

        I admit I’ve only watched half a dozen of the Heat/Flames games the past two years, but I will always watch the highlights. I think it would be interesting to see/do some eTOI analysis for the baby Flames, similar to Josh W on CanucksArmy. Do you know if anyone has already done this?