Kevin SchultzThe Islanders have a lot of defenders looking to make the NHL roster — seven signed to NHL deals plus a few AHL prospects knocking on the door — so it’s going to be a very competitive camp for the defenders. And not only do the Islanders have all of those players, there are also a group of guys who played in juniors last year that will be looking for the crack at the big time. Among the latter group is Griffin Reinhart, the team’s first round pick in 2012, taken at fourth overall.
Reinhart has spent the past three seasons (and a sliver of a fourth) playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL. He’s in the same situation that Ryan Strome was last year and Nino Niederreiter the year prior; the Islanders either have to keep him on the roster or send him back to juniors (they can also send him back after 9 NHL games). Reinhart doesn’t have the option of playing in Bridgeport thanks to the CHL-NHL agreement prohibiting young players from skating in the AHL and ECHL until 20 years of age
In Edmonton, the Edmonton Journal reports that the Oil Kings are already planning for life without their best defender:
The team sounds like it’s going through a bit of a rebuilding transition, which would make Reinhart an even bigger fish in a smaller pond. But that doesn’t mean that he’ll be on Long Island in October. According to the Journal:
They’re a deeper team and way more patient.
Not only have the Islanders been much more patient with their prospects but there’s also the back-log of defenders that the team has. As it stands, the team could carry the seven defenders on NHL deals it currently has and no more, leaving all of the minor leaguers and prospects off the opening night roster. That’s not the worst thing, as those guys would be the first call-ups when, or if, the injury bug hits. But it certainly is a tough time to be a defensive prospect in the Islanders system, as there is a lot of competition.