We Must Temper Expectations With Reinbacher

Lausanne HC v EHC Kloten - National League
Lausanne HC v EHC Kloten - National League / RvS.Media/Monika Majer/GettyImages

The Montreal Canadiens' 2023 fifth overall selection David Reinbacher is free to come to Montreal now that the playoff situation has finished.

With that said, it's certainly a reason for excitement, especially for the Laval Rocket, who will have some legitimate depth on their right defence. But tempering expectations will be crucial when you consider how poorly Reinbacher's team (EHC Kloten) played this season. The NL is a solid professional league, but the team was a tire fire, leaving Reinbacher without playing time since the beginning of March.

His skating and elite mobility will help him transition, but he will need time to adjust. The smaller ice and more talented players will leave him with less time to make decisions. He was sent back in part because of his education and work commitments, but it also kept him out of the spotlight.

Reinbacher played just 35 games, and his team failed to qualify for the playoffs, a far cry from the 82-game schedule in North America. It's reasonable to believe he will play in Laval this season to get used to the tempo and pace. It is more than likely that he will play a full season in the American Hockey League next season as well.

Developmentally he will need to get stronger and quicker, both on his feet and in his decision-making. The best way to do that is in Laval, with a game plan from the Canadiens director of player development, Adam Nicholas. Slow and steady wins the race, and I expect he will be integrated into the lineup at a pace that most benefits him.

Some have touted him as a bust and criticized the selection based on the Habs' organizational needs and who was available when he was selected. Those same critiques will likely come out of the woodwork when he plays and possibly sits a few games to avoid burnout. Juraj Slafkovsky slowed a bit in his rookie season, but that is by no means a reason to write him off

Aside from Auston Matthews, who was the 2016 first-overall selection, very few players come from overseas and excel right away. Moritz Seider is an example of a player who needed some time to develop after being drafted and took a little more time in the NHL before he hit his stride. Development is very seldom linear, it's a bumpy road, but patience ultimately pays off in the end.

Down in Laval, Reinbacher can slot in behind Logan Mailloux, who is still a rookie, but has been doing quite well learning the ropes. Albeit a young option for a mentor, Mailloux has dealt with plenty of adversity and could be the perfect option to help Reinbacher adapt to his new stomping grounds. The organization both in the NHL and AHL have insulated the young guys with veterans, and because of that the young guys have learned plenty, which should be great for the next crop of rookies.

I expect that Reinbacher will develop into a great top-four defenseman, sooner rather than later, and I think there is potential for a top pairing right shot defender. In due time. But let's remember he is only 19 years old.