Tobias Rieder's return to Edmonton sees a reunion of two kinds
EDMONTON, AB - Signing a one-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers on the first day of NHL Free Agency marked a reunion of a couple kinds for German forward Tobias Rieder. The first of which is a return to the organization that drafted him in the fourth round and 114th-overall in 2011.
What the Oilers liked about the speedy winger back in 2011 is what brought him back into the organization's fold, albeit under a different regime.
Oilers GM and President of Hockey Operations Peter Chiarelli was very clear about his off-season ambitions near the conclusion of the 2017-18 campaign and speed on the wing was a mandate. Rieder's swiftness along with some offensive upside and penalty-killing capabilities was a deciding factor for the Oilers when free agent hunting began. Now that he's officially back in orange and blue, it's clear both sides saw a fit given the German's strengths.
"I'd like to bring in my speed, try to create stuff offensively and always be good on the penalty kill," said the newly-signed Oilers winger over the phone from his off-season home in Landshut, Germany - a town just north of Munich.
"I try to use my speed as much as I can."
On the team's side of things, Chiarelli felt Rieder's skillset addressed some of the Oilers immediate needs and was comfortable with the term and dollar amount of the contract.
"The one-year deal is a good fit in general… It gives him a platform," said Chiarelli.
"He's a motivated, young individual. He's a fast, quick player who closes on pucks. It made sense. We're happy to get him."
The second reunion rolled into Rieder's return to Edmonton is one with fellow countryman and former teammate on the international stage in Leon Draisaitl. The pair's history stretches back to their days with Team Germany at World Juniors and continued into their transition to the pro ranks where they suited up for their country at several IIHF World Championships and with Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey in 2016.
Naturally, one of his first calls after inking the deal was to his fellow German and new Oilers teammate.
"I talked to him today for a little bit. It doesn't happen too often for two German players to be on the same team. I know him pretty well."
Throughout their several stints as teammates, Rieder notes chemistry and production between the two has seen him flank the Oilers centre on more than one occasion.
"I think every tournament we've played on the same team, we've played on the same line. He's a great player. I'm sure it makes everybody's life easier to play with him. There's just players that are very easy to play with."
While the exact makeup of the Oilers lineup likely won't come into focus until closer to October, Rieder slides in as a versatile winger that gives Edmonton some flexibility in the top six - something that Chiarelli is happy to have added via free agency.
"I'm comfortable going in with the mix of forwards that we have now that we've shored up our depth and speed… There's a level of skill that we've added today that we feel can complement lines," said Chiarelli.
With a one-year contract and plenty to prove, the 25-year-old will be looking to make an impact right away as his second stint in Oil Country gets going when he touches back down in Edmonton for training camp in September.
"I'm really happy to back," Rieder said. "I'm excited and I can't wait to get going."