The prevailing question over the past couple of days in social media land was the status of Islanders defenseman Griffin Reinhart.
Why did he make the roster if he was not going to play? Why is he even here, losing valuable time in the development program of the Edmonton Oil Kings and the WHL?
Those questions were answered about thirty minutes ago when the team announced that Reinhart, the 19 year old, 6’5, 215 pound blue-liner was indeed going back to Edmonton today.
Coming in against long odds, Reinhart had a very impressive rookie and training camp and showed some maturity and skills, both offensively and defensively, during his time on the Island.
He also got to learn from some of the best in the business on how the team goes about their daily routine from practice to conditioning and more. Being around players like Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald, John Tavares and the rest of the team leadership had to be an invaluable experience for the youngster from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Head coach Jack Capuano alluded to those important factors in keeping him on the 23 man roster to start the season in his post practice press conference on Monday morning. So the questions should no longer linger as to why he was here in the first place.
He is projected to be a large part of the Islanders defense, along with newcomer Matt Donovan, for a very long time and with defenseman developing more slowly than forwards typically, there is no reason to rush and insert him into the lineup at this time. There were spurts, sure, where he looked as if he could handle the pressure and tempo of the pro game right now, but more times that he showed he could not. And that was just in pre-season.
With the option of sending him to the American Hockey League as part of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers not available, there really was only one choice here once Travis Hamonic was confirmed to be 100% healthy from the knock he took against the Nashville Predators in the final tune up of the exhibition season.
This also likely means that Cal Clutterbuck will be coming off the injured reserve list in time for Friday’s showdown with the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
Way ahead of the 4-6 week time frame given when he suffered a severe skate laceration to his thigh, we can only hope the Islanders are not rushing Clutterbuck into action too soon. At 2-0-1 to start the new season and the team gelling more and more each game, a consideration to err on the side of caution might be more prudent, no matter how impatient fans might be to see his style of play.