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At last, the veil is lifted. The Canadiens made their move, confirming what we’ve all whispered about like circa 1997 HR reps in the dim corners of a Nortel cafeteria. The much-anticipated arrival of Kloten’s defenceman and the Canadiens’ first-round pick of 2023, David Reinbacher, was officially announced earlier this week. But, let me tell you, the story unfolding is nothing short of an impotent tragedy, a narrative so steeped in snooze it could give the fluffiest Ikea pillow a run for its cotton.

Reinbacher’s saga with Kloten is a tale of woe, a series of unfortunate events that culminated in a spectacular failure to mount even a semblance of a fight to challenge for a relegation round. It’s the kind of storyline that forces you to ponder the wisdom of his season spent in Switzerland, raising the question: Was it all for naught? While I’ve often cast a skeptical eye on the KHL’s developmental methods — where young talents are doled out ice time as if it were a rare commodity — it’s worth noting, perhaps with a hint of irony, that Matvei Michkov has seen more action, Time on Ice and opportunities with Sochi than Reinbacher did with Kloten. Yes, you heard it right. It begs the question, does it not?

Now, onto a puzzle that’s been gnawing at my mind: Given Martin St. Louis’s penchant for emphasizing quality ‘puck touches’, does Laval truly offer Reinbacher the kind of nurturing ground needed for his talents to flourish and adapt to the North American style of play? Initial impressions from development and training camps last summer suggest Reinbacher is no shrinking violet on smaller ice. His confidence and ability to seize opportunities suggest that I’ll be eating my words soon enough after a good start in Laval. Yet, his impressive combination of size and skill (which he was drafted for, remember?) merits a closer examination by the Habs, to gauge the true extent of his development this season and the direction it’s heading.

But here’s the kicker — in my view, Laval might not be the promised land for Reinbacher’s developmental journey. The Canadiens’ habitual gamble of thrusting young, junior-eligible players into the professional arena is a pattern that’s worn thin, especially given the abundance of defensive prospects already gracing their ranks or about to. Scout Joe Maciag, in a candid AMA on Reddit, painted Reinbacher as adept at dodging checks and navigating the physical play of the Swiss League. Yet, transitioning to the AHL’s rigours will demand more than just evasive manoeuvres. The Canadiens are tasked with finding an environment that will challenge and refine Reinbacher’s hockey IQ, gap control, and ability to keep pace with the game’s velocity and ferocity. And frankly, I harbour my doubts about the AHL being the right spot for such a transformation.

Consider this: The Sarnia Sting had the foresight to draft Reinbacher in the second round of the 2022 import draft, even attempting to woo him to the OHL last summer. Yet, Reinbacher, perhaps swayed by the siren call of yodels, chose another year in Switzerland, prioritizing familiar development grounds over new horizons.

It begs the question — with Sarnia’s defence not exactly being the envy of the league, would Reinbacher not have been better served showcasing his talents and dominating at the OHL level?

One thing is irrefutably clear: on the smaller North American ice, Reinbacher would have faced the crucible of 68 games. And that, my friends, would have bought the Habs time.