Canucks’ favourite lockdown RHD David Reinbacher gets a perfect defence draft rating

Photo credit:courtesy EHC Kloten
Isabella Urbani
10 months ago
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Welcome back to our series here at CanucksArmy where we examine players who could be available for the Vancouver Canucks to draft with the 11th pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. 
We’ve previously broken down Swedish right-shot defenceman Axel Sandin Pellikka; last season’s youngest NCAA player, BC’s own, Matthew Wood; Bo Horvat comparable and Slovakian centre, Dalibor Dvorský; draft long shot Matvei Michkov; OHLer Calum Ritchie; fastest skater of the draft, USNTDP centre Oliver Moore, and left-shot Russian defenseman Dmitri Simashev. Today, we will take a long-awaited look at the favourite for the Canucks to draft, Austrian right-defenceman David Reinbacher. 
04’ David Reinbacher was pushed back to the 2023 NHL Entry Draft due to an October birthday. He’s currently 18 years old and will be turning 19 later this fall. Reinbacher spent last season in the NL, the Swiss pro hockey league, with EHC Kloten. He recorded 22 points (3 G, 19 A) in 46 games and two points (1 G, 1 A) in two playoff games, winning the “NL Media Most Improved Player” — which Auston Matthews won in 2016. Previously, Reinbacher played in the SHL, Switzerland’s second-tier pro league, and won the SHL Championship. Both this season and last, Reinbacher was a member of Austria’s U-20 World Junior team. This time around Reinbacher dawned the “A” and was awarded as one of Austria’s top three players. He has four points in nine combined IIHF World Junior appearances. 
What the scouts are saying 
Corey Pronman, The Athletic: “Given Reinbacher’s success versus men and not having to deal with a Russian variable, it’s highly likely he will be the first defenseman drafted. He has good size and mobility, he competes well and provides offense. He projects as a two-way high-in-the-lineup NHL defenseman.”
Pronman compared Reinbacher to David Jiricek, Columbus’ sixth-overall draft pick last year: “There’s enough analogies that I think it’s quite close and sets a comparable for where Reinbacher could go in the draft.”
Harman Dayal, The Athletic: “The consensus top defenceman is David Reinbacher, a smooth-skating, two-way, 6-foot-2 presence. He’s a right-shot player too, which has made him an intriguing name for Canucks fans, who’d love to see the club find a long-term stud to complement Quinn Hughes.”
Alex Appleyard, Smaht Scouting: “He is better than players like Roman Josi and Mark Streit were at the same age, and is already the best blue-liner on the Austrian national team, and maybe even the best defenseman the nation has ever produced if he never developed from here on out. In terms of safe picks? The rangy right-handed defenseman has an unbelievably high floor. If he does not become at least a good NHL #4 defenseman in the near future it would be a shock. [Reinbacher] has virtually no holes in his game, with good skating, good IQ, good gap-control, a great transition game, solid hands, a nice shot.”
Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting: “Having played pro, [Reinbacher] hasn’t been playing the game where he’s the guy that gets the puck and leads the rush all of the time or he’s the offensive guy with the puck. He’s learned where the best play is when you make the first pass out of the zone. And then the smart plays are keeping pucks alive at the offensive blue line and having the good positioning, good gap, good stick, defending your own blue line to keep the puck out of your own zone.” 
David St-Louis, Elite Prospects: “I trust [Reinbacher’s] defence. I trust that he can play 20+ minutes a night in the NHL as a shutdown element, but I want to see skill from him, more mechanical fluidity, and he’s showing more of it as the season goes on and his confidence rises. He catches pucks in movement, moves them quickly, attacks for backdoor plays, and even holds on to possession to let plays develop. He has hints of deception in his game. A great project for a development team, on top of being almost a sure-fire NHLer.”
Rankings (per Elite Prospects) 
According to these rankings, Reinbacher would be taken 17th overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Keeping in mind that this is a forward-heavy draft and only six defencemen are projected to go in the first round of the draft — most of which are supposed to go in the latter half — Reinbacher’s probably going to be one of the top three defencemen, perhaps even the first, taken this June. Elite Prospects not only has Reinbacher going first overall amongst defencemen, but they gave him a 100 rated for transition and defence. He’s got fantastic boards to middle plays, entry protection, retrieval and transitional success, and high efficiency on cross-lane passes and plays. 


Reinbacher is a well-calibrated machine: he’s the second-best shutdown defenceman of the draft. He’s already tuned up to do everything you want to do as a first-line defender, and he’s sharpened these skills against men in Switzerland. At just 18 years old, he was logging the most even-strength icetime for a defenceman on his team. He has the size at 6’2, 187 lbs, to become a physical threat, and not just a big body presence. Being on the “taller” side, Elite Prospects said that even when Reinbacher gets beat, he isn’t really beat: “His defensive range allows him to recover on a moment’s notice should he commit early with his feet or find himself a step behind the play for any other sort of reason.”
Reinbacher is a safe presence. He’s not going to take chances: he’ll gap up early, take the threat, and prevent odd-man rushes. Consequently, scouts would like to see Reinbacher breakout from his traditional first-pass breakout to evolve into crafting up some more savvy playmaking outside of his own zone. Scouts are unsure if his passing is as compelling now because of his own will or because he’s relying on the same song and dance to move the puck up the ice. If he wants to be a dependable puck-moving defenceman in the NHL, he’ll have to extend his repertoire to move into the rush and make the same kind of passes to teammates in high-pressure circumstances. Scouts did, however, note that Reinbacher was making improvements to this part of his game later in the season. While questions remain on his NHL impact on the scoresheet, there are no ifs, and, or buts about his defensive game. Reinbacher’s already proven he can not only play against professional-level players, but he can do so while making an impact. 
What would your reaction be if the Canucks drafted defensive lockdown David Reinbacher? Let us know in the comments section below!

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