The Montreal Canadiens will have some tough decisions ahead, but none as delicate as the future of David Reinbacher.
The 5th overall selection in the 2023 NHL Draft may well have signed his entry-level contract with the Canadiens, but it doesn’t mean he will necessarily spend the season in North America.
Reinbacher has gained confidence throughout the month of September at Rookie and Training Camps, playing with more poise and confidence with every outing.
The Canadiens have the option of keeping Reinbacher in the 514 (Montreal), sending him down the Orange Line to the 450 (Laval) or sending him back overseas to the +41 (Swizterland).
However, given that he is eligible to stay in North America, there have been calls to see him stay in the Greater Montreal Region in order to get acclimated to the North American style of hockey and the smaller rinks.
Although it could be an interesting situation to see Reinbacher suit up for the Montreal Canadiens or Laval Rocket; there are potential roadblocks to consider.
Too Much, Too Soon
NHL betting odds are not predicting a very positive outcome for the Montreal Canadiens’ upcoming season; and that with a roster that is seemingly overflowing with NHL-ready bodies.
Notwithstanding the yearly log-jam of middle-six forwards on the club, the Canadiens’ defensive brigade is also going to have to be a consideration.
With Mike Matheson, David Savard, Kaiden Guhle, Jordan Harris, Johnathan Kovacevic and Arber Xhekaj already in the plans, not to mention Justin Barron and Gustav Lindstrom pushing for a regular spot, there wouldn’t be any room for David Reinbacher.
Not only would he not get optimal playing time, something every youngster needs in their early years of development, but he would likely only be used in defensive situations, as the club will be looking to develop Guhle an Xhekaj into more offensive-minded rearguards this season.
Reinbacher may possess a very mature and polished defensive game, but the difference between him becoming an Adam Larsson-type defenceman and a Ryan McDonagh/Mattias Ekholm-type rearguard will be the evolution of his offensive game and play creation.
That’s not something he’ll have the time or luxury to develop in Montreal this season, especially in the most competitive league in hockey.
Right Place, Wrong Time
Then there’s the option of the Montreal Canadiens sending David Reinbacher to the AHL to play with the Laval Rocket.
On paper, that could be see as a perfect compromise of keeping him in North America, while helping him work with the Canadiens’ development team to improve his skills. It wouldn’t even be uncommon, as former top-10 picks Simon Nemec and David Jiricek both played in the AHL after being drafted last summer.
The issue is, the Laval Rocket will be icing the youngest iteration of a Canadiens farm team in the last two decades this year; meaning that the development team is already going to have their hands full.
Yes, as a 5th overall pick, the Montreal Canadiens should prioritize Reinbacher’s development above all in theory, but he won’t be alone.
In fact, if Reinbacher were to be sent to Laval, he’d have to contend for ice time with Logan Mailloux, Brady Keeper, and possibly even Justin Barron on the right side.
Then you have to factor in other prospects like the impressive duo of William Trudeau and Jayden Struble; along with Mattias Norlinder, Nicolas Beaudin and veteran Tobie Bisson.
Unlike Nemec and Jiricek, who had very little competition in terms of ice-time with the Utica Comets and Cleveland Monsters, Reinbacher’s minute shares would likely be limited due to the intense internal competition and existing pecking order on the Canadiens” farm team.
Although he could possibly get top-4 minutes at even strength, he would have virtually no chance at power play time, and would likely be battling for 2nd-wave penalty-kill time with Struble, Norlinder, Keeper and Bisson.
So, although the level of competition could be a good enough challenge for the youngster; not playing him in the type of role he is expected to hold in Montreal for years to come could come as a detriment to his long-term progression curve.
Wake Me Up When March Ends
The advantages for the Montreal Canadiens sending David Reinbacher to Kloten of the Swiss National League are plentiful.
For starters, EHC Kloten head coach Gerry Fleming has already confirmed that David Reinbacher, who was already playing a top-pairing role last season, would get even more responsibility this season as the club’s top defenceman.
That’s an interesting proposition for a soon-to-be 19-year-old playing in one of the best leagues in the world.
League difficulty estimates for 2023. Lower values represent better leagues.
So the top non NHL league is estimated as the AHL, with the SHL, NL, and KHL in a tier as the next best pro leagues with the Czech league, Liiga and DEL right there as well pic.twitter.com/4GetL3YzZ6
— Chace McCallum (@CMhockey66) September 23, 2023
Yes, contrary to popular belief, the Swiss National League has risen to prominence very quickly over the last decade, due in part to their increased allotment of foreign players and handsome wages.
It’s actually vaulted the Swiss National League to the 2nd-best league in Europe, just behind the Swedish Hockey League; as there are an increasing number of former NHLers making the jump there to earn double-to-triple the earnings they could get in the AHL.
That increase in player quality, coupled with Reinbacher’s expected utilization, makes it increasingly attractive for the Montreal Canadiens, as, unlike Montreal or Laval, there will be nobody in Reinbacher’s way.
The National League plays out until March 4th this year, with playoffs expected to go until mid-April; meaning that, if Kloten were to either miss the playoffs or get eliminated in the first couple of rounds, David Reinbacher would be free to come back to North America, likely for good.
Due to having a valid NHL contract, the Montreal Canadiens would be able to re-assign Reinbacher to the Laval Rocket; where he could join them for a late-season playoff push and possibly even a lengthy playoff run.
That would give the youngster the best of both worlds, as he’d spend the season getting prime minutes to ready him for the eventual jump to North America, while getting his feet wet in Laval before next year’s pivotal training camp.
It’s the kind of patience that the Canadiens might be required to have when it comes to the development of their players, especially the top pair ones.
We now have to wait and see which of the three area codes the Montreal Canadiens staff will be calling when they check up on Reinbacher this season.
*For more NHL betting lines and futures, head over to FanDuel