Although some of this might be attributed to wishful thinking, the Edmonton Journal’s David Staples openly wonders whether Griffin Reinhart could find his way back to Edmonton. This comes only a day after Reinhart was signed to a reasonable $800,000 deal for two-years in Vegas. Staples wonders whether the excess of defense on the left side will force Vegas to place Reinhart on waivers in an attempt to send him to the AHL. He surmises, probably correctly, that GM Peter Chiarelli would take another gamble on the player if it were to get that far. It seems incredibly unlikely he would make it to Edmonton’s position in the waiver wire, however, as many worse franchises would likely place a claim. It’s even less likely that Vegas management would risk losing that sort of asset for nothing in the first place.
Reinhart is unlikely to make an Edmonton return, but it’s not totally inconceivable that he’d be the odd man out in Vegas. The team went heavy on defense in the expansion draft, and odds are that they will eventually lose someone to the waiver wire if they can’t maneuver more moves. Once Nate Schmidt is signed, they’ll have 11 defensemen on the NHL roster, and that’s if Erik Brannstrom doesn’t make the big squad. Even assuming the Golden Knights can trade two more players, they’re not likely to carry more than 8 defensemen. Someone will be sacrificed to waivers unless GM George McPhee can pull some magic before the start of the season.
The most aged players include Jason Garrison (32), who has a no-trade clause, Deryk Engelland (35), Luca Sbisa (27), and Clayton Stoner (32). Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Schmidt, and Shea Theodore will likely constitute the team’s future defense, and it might be difficult for Reinhart to crack that group. Brad Hunt and Jon Merrill are the least likely to attract any major attention if they were to be waived, so there is no necessity to start floundering yet. Hunt in particular would pass with almost no difficulty, as the 5’9, 28-year old defender hasn’t been overly impressive in his 33 career NHL games. Still, depending on who else is moved and whether Reinhart makes an impact at training camp, he could be seen as a non-core piece. McPhee will need to make a determination as to who will be getting major playing time, considering that at this moment things are far too crowded for the younger players to shine.
McNabb, Schmidt, and Miller seem the safest for the moment, but anything can happen. The right side has to be a concern, as only Engelland and Miller naturally play that position. As for now, we’ll have to wait and see who gets unloaded for picks and future assets, and whether they will be much difficulty in doing so. It seems unlikely that Vegas would move Reinhart, a young piece who they just re-signed, considering that if nothing else he can fill a 7th or 8th defensive position. Sbisa and Stoner seem to be the most likely to move out to a team starved for defensive depth, especially considering their contracts are each only good for one more season.