Reinbacher is ready to prove he belongs in Montreal

The Canadiens 2023 first round selection had a frustrating year, but he is preparing for a big offseason; his eyes are set on cracking the Habs roster in October.
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

For a Montreal Canadiens first round draft selection to fly under the radar, it is almost foreign territory.

David Reinbacher, the Habs 2023 fifth overall draft selection, however, was a rare scenario of such. Playing over in Switzerland for his draft-plus-one season, fans didn't get to see much of Reinbacher. The majority of viewings and statistics showed that he played well, but his team was awful.

Reinbacher also focused primarily on his game away from the puck and very rarely did he sacrifice defence for offensive rushes. In the Swiss NL, one of the top European professional leagues, Reinbacher played reasonably well, but he appeared afraid to make any mistakes. This limited his opportunities with the puck, which discouraged him from showing his offensive zone tools.

Once his season ended, Kent Hughes wasted no time bringing the Austrian to Laval. Having signed Reinbacher to his entry-level deal in July, the club had no issue burning the first year of his three-year pact. Four days later, Reinbacher made his debut with the Rocket - where he scored a beauty for his first AHL goal.

It was obvious that his lack of offensive production was indicative of his surroundings because when allowed to create, he did so. He showed great mobility, kept his head up scanning; which kept the goalie guessing and fired an accurate wrist shot into the net. It takes a high level of confidence to do what he did, especially in a new league, but no less in his debut.

Although he has just 11 games under his belt with the Laval Rocket, Reinbacher showed a glimpse of what he can become. There is definite room for his puck skills to improve and when he adds a little more muscle to his frame his shot could become a big tool in his kit. With his sights set on joining the Habs in October, this summer will be the biggest of his career and he certainly could cement a role.

Hughes's moves this offseason will be a telling tale of his trust in the young blueliners. Johnathan Kovacevic and David Savard could garner interest from teams looking to bolster their defence, with a reasonable price tag. Reinbacher, Logan Mailloux and Justin Barron are all on the cusp; whether it be the 2024-25 season or 2025-26, they are close.

Reinbacher, though, the youngest of the trio, could surprise many at Habs training camp and force Hughes to make a trade. The domino effect would help the Canadiens facilitate a trade for help in the forward core. This would be an ideal scenario, getting younger and dealing from a position of strength to address a need.