The Vegas Golden Knights have announced the signings of Griffin Reinhart and Brendan Leipsic to two-year contracts, per the team’s twitter. Reinhart’s deal is worth $800,000 AAV, while Leipsic’s is only for $650,000 a season.
Reinhart is a former first-round pick, picked fourth overall in 2012 by the New York Islanders. He was moved to Edmonton for a first-round and second-round pick. He under-performed in Alberta, only playing 29 games total. His Corsi For Relative % was a poor -3.3%, and he often struggled with the puck on his stick, flubbing simple zone exits. With only two career assists to his name, he has a lot to prove in the NHL. That said, there was a reason he was so highly touted in his draft class. He’s mobile for a 6’4 defenseman and has tons of room to grow at only 23 years old. He has shown a solid pass from time to time and has the potential to be a solid top-4 defender if he can learn to adjust to the intellectual pace of the NHL game. Watching him down the tail stretch of the season and in his one playoff game in relief due to injuries, he’s not a lost cause. Reinhart has grown physically and still has a decent skill level. Vegas will hope to have struck gold with this player, but he’ll have to beat out other promising young defensemen in the system in order to gain heavy playing time.
Leipsic is a more curious move, as he is quite undersized and is no sure bet to crack an NHL roster. That said, he had a 120-point season with the Portland Winterhawks and adjusted well to his time with the AHL Marlies, potting 50 points twice. The 5’10 winger was an add-on in a trade between Toronto and Nashville a few years back, and has only dressed for 6 games total for the Leafs. Still, he’s only 23, and is a sparkplug on every shift. He moves quickly and has decent hands, but is most likely destined for an AHL scoring role. He’ll have the opportunity to flourish in Vegas if he proves himself early, considering that team’s lack of proven offensive depth.
Neither player had a particularly strong case for a raise, so this news is not much of a shock. Still, Vegas is locking up the players it claimed in the expansion draft and banking on younger players to step up this season.