The Montreal Canadiens decided to keep the fifth overall pick at the 2024 NHL Draft, David Reinbacher, in Europe this season.
The decision was to mitigate some of the pressure and complications involved in playing hockey in North America. Rather than having him play for the Laval Rocket, a team based just across the St-Lawrence River from Montreal, they preferred to let their prized prospect continue to develop with his Swiss team, EHC Kloten.
It’s a decision that made sense in principle, but things have gone awry for Kloten this season, leaving Reinbacher in a difficult situation.
The team fired their coaching staff earlier in the year with the hopes of righting the ship. Not only did they not manage to fix the long list of issues, but the results arguably became worse.
As it stands, ECH Kloten is currently ranked 13th in the National League, which means they’re among the bottom two teams and will have to participate in a ‘playout’ at the end of the season to decide which team will be relegated and which team will be promoted to the top league.
This reportedly led to yet another firing, as Larry Mitchell is expected to be fired on Monday. The report indicates Stefan Mair will take over coaching duties.
Looks like David Reinbacher will have a third head coach this season.
New coach is reporting to be Stefan Mair.
(google translated the headline here) pic.twitter.com/iZK1cqo1sz
— Thibaud Chatel (@Thibaud_Chatel) January 24, 2024
Montreal Canadiens Brass Tacks
With just 10 wins in 40 games, Kloten simply has not provided a situation conducive to developing a top prospect. In addition to the lack of consistency among their coaches, Reinbacher suffered an injury in the early parts of the season, one that seems to have completely derailed his Draft+1 year.
Reinbacher only has one goal this season and it came while the opposition had pulled their goaltender in favour of an extra attacker. In 23 games, he’s managed to add seven assists, pushing his season totals to eight points, a rather underwhelming result when you consider he was a top-five draft pick.
His defensive play has suffered as well, though a lack of defensive structure is likely at play.
This doesn’t mean that Reinbacher’s development has been ruined, but there certainly has not been much progress when discussing his eventual ascension to the AHL or the NHL.
His underlying numbers point to a player who still has a decent amount of potential, potential that is unlikely to be unlocked as long as he stays in Europe.
Kloten’s difficult season ends on March 4, however, given that they might be forced to participate in the playout, Reinbacher’s arrival to play with the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket, may be delayed.