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Griffin Reinhart Trade Rebalances New York Islanders Prospect Pool

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The Isles managed to replenish their forward pipeline while flipping Reinhart to the NHL franchise that values him most.

"How do I know you guys won't trade me next time you need to 'rebalance' eh?"
"How do I know you guys won't trade me next time you need to 'rebalance' eh?"
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Griffin Reinhart was part of the New York Islanders' infamous "none more defensemen" draft of 2012, known not just because they used all seven picks on defensemen, but also because one (albeit conflicting) report alleged they offered their entire slate of picks for the opportunity to pick Ryan Murray.

That deal, in whatever form it was proposed, never happened. But their interest in Murray -- a clear high-end prospect -- combined with them going seven deep with defensemen picks showed the Islanders were trying to rebalance their system. Several years of producing high-end forwards like Brock Nelson, Nino Niederreiter (then still with the club), Ryan Strome, Kirill Kabanov (still a hope at that point) left the blueline pool thin.

Three years later, they've used that draft haul to rebalance again. Ville Pokka, the second defensemen they selected in that 2012 draft, was packaged to Chicago in 2014 in the Nick Leddy deal -- giving them immediate, high-end blueline help at the NHL level.

And on Friday night, the Isles parlayed Griffin Reinhart for two picks (16th, 33rd) that got them back into the first round of the 2015 draft. At 16 they selected Mathew Barzal, and at 28 -- they dealt the 33rd and their own 72nd to get there -- Anthony Beauvillier.

Barzal joins 2014 pick Michael Dal Colle as truly high-end forward prospects -- and in the view of some, he's even better than Dal Colle. Beauvillier is more akin to his predecessor at 28th overall, Josh Ho-Sang, in that he has enticing skill but also carries more of the risk you expect from a late first-rounder.

Rebalancing Act

In any case, the Isles once were deep in forward prospects and thin on the blueline. The graduation of Nelson, Strome and Anders Lee to the NHL, and the drafts of 2012 plus the 2013 pick of Ryan Pulock flipped that around.

Reinhart, already known more for defense than offense on his draft day, was a risk at 4th overall in 2012. His development since then has done little to change the thought that at best he will be a very good defensive defenseman. (That's not a bad thing, but it is a "probably don't spend the 4th overall on this" thing.)

Pulock pretty quickly became the more promising prospect in the Isles system, Scott Mayfield looked frankly better than Reinhart in their limited playoff exposure this past spring, and Adam Pelech is another prospect who offers promise as a physical defense-first guy.

Reinhart Goes Home

Meanwhile, whether the Islanders are right or wrong on their revised projection for Reinhart, the fact is they had a surplus and they used it to rebalance their system while Reinhart still had considerable value. It's no surprise that value was highest in Edmonton, where Reinhart played his junior hockey and where the Oilers always appeared to be high on him.

That was confirmed in post-trade comments, where it wasn't new general manager Peter Chiarelli doing the talking, but rather old guard Oilers heads Kevin Lowe and Bob Green, Reinhart's former WHL GM with the Oil Kings:

"I know what he brings," said Oilers Director of Player Personnel and former Oil Kings General Manager Bob Green. "I know what he brought in junior. He played one year pro, he’s got developing to do but Griffin is a winner. He’s got elite hockey sense, he’s 6-foot-4, he’s a defenceman and we need defencemen.

He won a Memorial Cup Championship, he was the captain. He would have taken us there, I believe, when he was 18 but he got injured in the Conference Final that year. We took Portland to six games and maybe we could have won that series if we had him in the lineup.

Did he struggle this year in the American League? I guess he did. But I believe in Griffin as a player and I think he’s going to be just fine."

Those questions are now Edmonton's to answer.