On Saturday, Griffin Reinhart played his first game for the Oilers since November 25. The defenceman was playing down in the American Hockey League for the Bakersfield Condors when he was recalled ahead of the Oilers game against the Nashville Predators.
Disappointed as many young players are with his assignment to the AHL, Reinhart worked his way back, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse.
“It was good,” said Reinhart. “I mean, you look at the way Leon and Darnell, when they went down and came up, they had that extra jump in their game. They were frustrated. They wanted to be here, and they proved they can play here. I was down there a little bit longer and that’s what I want to do as well.”
While the Oilers lost 4-1 to the Predators, Reinhart drew praise from Head Coach Todd McLellan. The defenceman finished the game leading his team in hits with five (Eric Gryba also had five) and shots with four. He recorded his first point of the season, with an assist on Draisaitl’s goal.
“I liked Griff’s game tonight,” said the coach. “He defended well, he jumped up into the play, he had some good scoring chances, he was assertive. He played hard, and I was impressed with his game. The good thing about it is there’s always internal competition, and he’s throwing himself back in the mix. There’s going to be other guys. Davy is going to get healthy, then Klef’s going to get healthy on that backend. I like that. I like when we have guys pushing each other, rather than just showing up knowing their going to play.”
Reinhart was unsure as to the next step for him following the game, but he was left hungry for more heading into the NHL All-Star Break.
“I’m not sure what the plan is here, whether I’m going to go down and play some more games in Bakersfield, but whatever they do with me right now I am motivated and I want to play here night in and night out and show what I can do,” Reinhart said.