Reino Has Found A Fit With Laval

2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits / Terry Wyatt/GettyImages

It appears that the Montreal Canadiens' 2023 fifth-overall selection has transitioned well with his new teammates in Laval.

During morning media availability, Justin Barron referred to Reinbacher as Rhino. And while he isn't an abrasive defender, he has shown a willingness to elevate from his spot at the blueline for scoring chances. The awareness, so early into his professional career in North America hasn't come without its warts, but his poise and knowledge of when to pick his spots has been pretty on par.

He does finish his checks, and his mobility and size are definitely strengths in his game, which he uses to defend in a new league. But his skating and offensive punch weren't seen at this rate while in Switzerland. Fortunately it appears to be a case of him trying to focus on the defensive side of the game, without hurting his team.

His first goal with the Rocket came in his debut and gave fans a glimpse of a few intriguing tools that he has in his repertoire. Vision and anticipation were the two things that stood out most, and his puck skills and quick release followed soon after. He put himself in the conversation for one of the top 10 goals for the Rocket this season.

In a pivotal game, amongst many for the Rocket and their playoff hopes, Reinbacher scored his second career AHL goal. This one was his first on home ice and showed his quick release and heavy shot. His celebration was perfectly telling of his character, he is focused and mature; almost to say he knows he will score again.

Reinbacher has played just eight games and in that time, he has scored two goals and two assists. But more impressive has been his ability to adapt to the smaller ice and the increase in physicality. Skating and gap control were two things that were strengths since the European game relies heavily on swift skating.

Whether he plays in Laval next year or in Montreal, he adds another high-potential right-shot defenseman to a promising group. With Logan Mailloux enjoying a great rookie season and Justin Barron's recent call-up to Montreal, the Canadiens blueline will undergo a youth overhaul over the next couple of seasons. Lane Hutson and Adam Engstrom are in the mix also, albeit on the left side.

Kent Hughes saw something in Reinbacher and now that he is in North America, we are all getting a glimpse of it. With more highlights to come over a full season in 2024-25.