It’s not often that you see a full-time forward in the NHL go a whole season without a goal, but that’s what has happened so far for the Edmonton Oilers’ Tobias Rieder. Rieder has just 11 assists in 59 games this season, despite recording 78 shots on goal. Now, in an inexplicable rant by CEO Bob Nicholson at a season ticket holder event, it became clear that Rieder will not be back with the Oilers, if that was ever in doubt. Bruce McCurdy of the Edmonton Journal was in attendance, and gives a transcript of Nicholson’s comments on the struggling forward:
Toby Rieder will not be signed by the Edmonton Oilers at the end of the year.
Toby Rieder was a player that other teams wanted. He came here for one year because he wanted to play with Leon Draisaitl who he plays with on the German national team. He thought if he wasn’t playing with Leon he’d be playing with Connor [McDavid], he’d score 15-16 goals and instead of making two million he’d sign a four-year deal at three and a half million.
Toby Rieder hasn’t scored a goal.
Toby Rieder has missed so many breakaways.
If Toby Rieder would have scored 10 or 12 goals we’d probably be in the playoffs.
Rieder, 26, signed a one-year $2MM contract with the Oilers as an unrestricted free agent on July 1st after the Los Angeles Kings decided not to extend him a qualifying offer. He is actually still scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer, but after these comments from Nicholson it is clear that he will not be tendered a qualifying offer once again, making him a UFA. That makes sense given his poor performance this season, but it’s unusual for management to be so public with comments like this.
It’s not like Rieder doesn’t have a history of offensive production. Originally a fourth-round pick of the Oilers back in 2011, he would never actually sign with the team. Instead his rights were traded to the Arizona Coyotes, where he recorded 51 goals in 292 games, including a career-high of 16 in 2016-17. The swift skating forward was a dominant player in the OHL and minor leagues, but just hasn’t been able to put it together in Edmonton this time around.
The Oilers are currently sitting seven points behind the Coyotes for the final Western Conference playoff spot, and have a goal differential of -38 this season.