[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!]
seriously. What the heck happened to him?
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.
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.
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
ahead to February, 2015.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
question now is: what can be done about Max Reinhart?
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
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.
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.