Griffin Reinhart, New York’s big-bodied defenseman taken No. 4 overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, has been a healthy scratch in each of the Islanders’ first three games this season.
On Tuesday, he admitted the situation had started to wear on him a bit.
“It’s a little frustrating not playing, but I’ve been in junior several years now, and I don’t think there’s too much more for me to be learned down there,” Reinhart told the New York Post. “So I think just practicing here — even if I was just practicing here all year, and playing a few games — I’d learn more from these guys than going back to junior.”
Reinhart, 19, has only two playing options for this season (because of the CHL-AHL age limit rule): head back to WHL Edmonton, or stick it out with the Isles.
The latter seems to be the preferred scenario for all parties involved. Both the Isles and Griffin see the benefit of him being at the NHL level, though it is tough for the club to throw him in the mix, especially after Tuesday night’s 6-1 thrashing of Phoenix in which the six-man unit of Travis Hamonic, Lubomir Visnovsky, Thomas Hickey, Brian Strait, Matt Donovan and Andrew MacDonald finished a combined plus-6 with Donovan scoring his first goal of the year.
Still, the Isles will probably be more cognizant of making sure the 6-foot-5, 215-pound Reinhart doesn’t end up like the aforementioned Niederreiter.
After being placed in the Isles lineup at 19 years of age — too soon, some contended — Niederreiter was dispatched back to the AHL for one-and-a-half years of further seasoning. He became frustrated with his situation and rumblings of trade talks swirled before he was eventually dealt to Minnesota at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
UPDATE 11:02 a.m. ET
Well, this is interesting — in an odd twist, the Isles have decided to send Reinhart back to WHL Edmonton, according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple. More on this story as it develops.
UPDATE 12:19 p.m. ET
Isles head coach Jack Capuano on the demotion:
“We sent Griffin down since if he’s not getting in the lineup and getting those minutes he should go back to juniors and get that experience.”