Austrian defenceman David Reinbacher has seen his stock improve significantly in recent months. Now considered by many to be the first blueliner off the board, it’s quite possible that he garners consideration from the Habs with the fifth selection.
At first glance, the idea of picking a blueliner with this pick might seem foolhardy. After all, Montreal isn’t exactly lacking for young defenders. However, the majority of those players are left shots. Reinbacher is a righty. Looking ahead a few years, it’s possible that Reinbacher could fill the final true opening on their future back end as a minute-munching player that can cover tough defensive minutes. All of a sudden, the idea might not seem so crazy after all.
DOB: October 25, 2004
Weight: 187 lbs
Elite Prospects: 9
Future Considerations: 10
Daily Faceoff: 8
The Hockey News: 9
TSN (Bob McKenzie): 20
TSN (Craig Button): 20
NHL Central Scouting (Intl): 5
Recruit Scouting: 11
Dobber Prospects: 16
Draft Prospects Hockey: 16
Smaht Scouting: 20
Mobility is an important element for the modern NHL defenceman. Looking at Montreal specifically and Martin St. Louis’ system, it’s even more critical. Reinbacher can more than keep up on that front. He can jump up in the rush and has enough speed to keep attackers in front of him. Even if he gets beaten by a half step, between his speed and his size, he can usually close the gap.
Defensively, Reinbacher is arguably the most well-rounded of any blueliner in this draft class. Again, his mobility is a big asset but he uses his stick well to break up plays, is strong enough to be successful in board battles or in front of the net, and he generally plays with a physical edge. Even playing in a men’s league for the entire season (the Swiss NL), he wasn’t getting pushed around or overmatched. That carried over to the World Championship where the team, in general, was overmatched but Reinbacher certainly wasn’t in his own end. Having said that, his play away from the puck (switches, rotations, and even first reads) are a work in process but that’s typically the case for most young blueliners. There’s a strong, safe foundation with room to grow.
Offensively, Reinbacher probably isn’t going to become a high-end producer. He has a strong point shot and is a decent passer but neither of these are top-level NHL assets. He’ll need to get better with the puck on his stick, especially when he makes the transition to playing on the smaller North American rink when plays develop quicker and the pressure picks up. If he can improve there, he should be able to put up some points although his ceiling might be in the 35-40-point range.
Overall, Reinbacher could top out as a number two defender, one that can log heavy minutes at five-on-five in all situations and help anchor a penalty kill. Those players aren’t flashy by any stretch of the imagination but every team needs one of those, especially one that plays on the right side of the rink. They’re hard to come by and carry a high acquisition cost if a team needs to trade for one so from an asset valuation standpoint, even if Montreal’s defensive group eventually pushed him out, the Habs would almost certainly land a significant return.
Reinbacher has another year left in his studies in Zurich and has indicated he’d like to remain there next season to finish that course. However, he’s not yet under contract so that could change depending on who picks him.
Since he isn’t being drafted out of the CHL, Reinbacher will be eligible to play in the minors right away and if a team gets him to come over next season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him follow Simon Nemec and David Jiricek (the top blueliners from last draft) and become an impact player in the AHL.
That isn’t to say that Reinbacher couldn’t play right away on an NHL third pairing. I think he could. But if a team is playing things smart with development, staying away from the NHL for next season at a minimum would be beneficial. If that’s in Switzerland, then he might need some time in the AHL in 2024-25. But he won’t need much time and it would be surprising if he isn’t pushing for full-time NHL duty within the next two years. That’s quick for a defenceman but he should be able to handle it.