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David Reinbacher: the end of the honeymoon with management (for all the wrong reasons)

Last night’s draft saw no action from start to finish. After all, with no trade, no QMJHL player selected and no 31st overall pick, CH fans had nothing to get their teeth into during the session.

But let’s just say that things got moving early on.

After Connor Bedard, the Ducks finally chose Leo Carlsson. And this, despite the fact that many believed that the good Adam Fantilli was a lock for the second spot.

Fantilli stepped up to the podium in his Blue Jackets colors, which was no surprise at this point. After all, the club wanted a center forward.

The Sharks had a big decision to make that would impact the rest of the auction for the CH. After all, if Will Smith had been available at #5, I think he would have been the Habs’ choice… but San Jose took him.

That’s when the question arose: would Kent Hughes, who didn’t want to draft Matvei Michkov, take one of the five offers on his table to go down in the draft? Did he have a prospect he liked enough to stay at #5?

So when we saw he wasn’t on the phone, we figured he’d talk… which was my favorite scenario. But why? Because the CH won’t be drafting as high in 2024 (at least, that’s the plan) and we need the best possible guy right now for the future.

And that guy, much to my delight, is David Reinbacher.

Because the defense wins championships, Reinbacher is an excellent defender and there was a crying need on the right, I consider this a good selection.

In fact, let me quote myself to illustrate my point. Here’s what I’ve already said about Reinbacher, whose ceiling is high.

But I wonder what’s so bad about picking a guy who’s seen as a Moritz Seider 2.0 in the draft. Ask a Wings fan if he regrets the selection, for fun.

In my eyes, drafting a forward wasn’t mandatory, even if it was “a forward draft” according to many people. In fact, drafting Reinbacher, 6’2, made a lot of sense to me. Why do I say that?

Because the other forwards weren’t all perfect for the CH. Whether it was size or the club’s feelings after the interviews, if the defenseman was the best choice, he was the best choice.

And if Hughes took the best possible player, one day he’ll be able to use his defensemen to go after a forward who’s older than 18 as we speak. Kind of like sending Alex Romanov to New York to give himself the ammunition to uproot Kiry Dach from Chicago.

Note, by the way, that three of the first eleven selections are defensemen. The Coyotes, who were talking at #6 and #12, even drafted a Russian defenseman ahead of Matvei Michkov. This shows two things:

  • Drafting a defenseman over Michkov wasn’t far-fetched. The clubs didn’t take “a lesser striker than Michkov”, therefore.
  • Drafting Reinbacher ahead of the Coyotes surely prevented him from heading for the desert.

Because let’s face it: the Canadiens had no desire to draft Michkov. Whether it was because of the red flags around him, his 200-foot game, the conflict with Ukraine or whatever, the CH didn’t touch the young man.

Neither did the Ducks, Blue Jackets, Sharks or Coyotes, for that matter.

Instead, Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton took the gamble of picking a guy who has a good rebound and can absolutely become a first-pair defenseman with the Habs one day.

And since the club only had Logan Mailloux and Justin Barron on the right, it was necessary to add such a guy. And if he really does become a Moritz Seider 2.0, I don’t think it would have been easy to get one by trade.

So drafting him made a lot of sense… despite the reactions of fans who were stunned by the decision.

Because while I’ve believed for some time that it was the right thing to do, not everyone does. Remember that Reinbacher was booed by CH fans in Nashville yesterday.

It’s special, but there it is.

It doesn’t apply to me because Reinbacher was my #5 pick, but a lot of people felt that the right-hander’s choice ended the honeymoon between management and the fans.

But you know what? It’s the same as last year.

Juraj Slafkovsky was the club’s choice, but was booed by the crowd at the draft, which took place in Montreal. Why was this? Because people wanted to see Shane Wright come to town.

Obviously, it’s too early to say whether Shane Wright and Matvei Michkov would have been better choices for the club. We’ll see in a few years’ time, as you know.

But either way, it tells us a bit more about management.

More than ever, we know that the club doesn’t draft according to the most popular choice. In 2009, Hughes and Gorton probably wouldn’t have drafted Louis Leblanc based on popular pressure, let’s say.

We also know that both are big guys and that they’re Europeans. But above all, these are management’s choices, based on what scouts are offering and on the market.

I understand that a lot of people would have liked to see the Habs move back in the draft to get assets to draft Reinbacher later. That said, Hughes had the feeling that clubs wanted to move up to get the Austrian.

And that’s without mentioning the Coyotes, who clearly could have taken the defenseman at #6.

As long as you’re backing out for a late first-round pick (or whatever the price is) to avoid getting the player management wanted, you might as well take him high enough.

Don’t worry: the club has done its homework. If Reinbacher is in town, it’s because he’s much loved by management and because he can take the club to the next level.

And I have no trouble believing that. And why is that?

Because in today’s NHL, a defenseman who can move the puck well and make a good rebound is not a luxury. It takes guys to put the puck on the stick of the captain and his scoring buddy.

Imagine a world in which the Habs had, on the power play, David Reinbacher and Lane Hutson on the first wave… in addition to Logan Mailloux and Mike Matheson on the second.

I don’t know about you, but I think that would energize the group over the medium term. And everyone knows that the Canadiens’ power play has been crying out for love for… ever.

The GM made sure he had his hands full for the future. He’s injected his team with talent, and he’s not afraid to make transactions to fill the remaining holes.

And as we’ve seen in recent weeks, he’s not afraid to have a poker face and do what it takes to improve the CH.

In my eyes, yesterday’s pick is very, very easily justifiable, and if he turns out to be any good, nobody’s going to cry about the fact that he was drafted #5. For that to happen, however, he’ll have to become the defenseman we’ve come to expect.

And I have no trouble believing that he will.


– With no late first-round or early second-round picks, the CH got David Reinbacher and Alex Newhook with its first three selections. That’s fine by me.

– Reinbacher should spend the next year in Europe before landing in North America afterwards. I like to see the CH take its time with him, but it won’t be years before he comes to town.

– With the Canadian pick, the Avalanche selected Mikhail Hulyayev, a Lane Hutson-type.

– Notice to those who think otherwise because of pre-draft talk or because of his march to the podium. All data, positive and negative, should be taken with a grain of salt.

– There are still eight picks to add to the Canadiens’ roster today. The next pick will be #69, in the third round.

– If defenses win championships and the CH finds its solution in front of the net, it will have a big defense to protect it. Reinbacher, a diamond in the rough, becomes the #1 candidate to be the big defenseman the club needs to take it to the next level alongside Kaiden Guhle.

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