Edmonton has been rebuilding their winger depth ever since the trades of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Whether it be promoting Drake Caggiula, signing Milan Lucic and Ty Rattie, or trading for Pontus Aberg. That winger restocking continued on Canada Day as they added Tobias Rieder for one year at a price of $2-million.
Rieder had a couple of quietly good seasons in Arizona from 2015-2017 managing 14 and 16 goals respectively before being traded last year to Los Angeles. He saw his role greatly reduced in his time with Los Angeles though he still managed four goals in 20 games, about the same pace as the previous two seasons.
Though Rieder will come nowhere close to the impact of the wingers they've traded, it doesn’t mean he still can’t be a useful player for the Oilers. He’s a winger who can slot in on the second or third line, preferably third, and have a decent impact on breaking out with the puck, which can only help their talented centres navigate the neutral zone and attack off the rush. He’s won’t help much on the defensive end of things but he shouldn’t be expected to. This is a team that needs to find some scoring in the bottom of their lineup and Rieder should do that.
One thing to keep an eye on is that Rieder’s individual shot rate at five-on-five declined every year he was in Arizona before seeing a bump in his 20 games with Los Angeles; his shots per 60 minutes in Arizona in 2017-18 was nearly half what it was in 2014-15. That’s a huge issue if it translates to Edmonton, rather than the bump he enjoyed in Los Angeles. It’s fine to get the puck to his centres with control, but they need someone to shoot and finish. He has to make that part of his game.
Edmonton’s power play was bad enough last year that there’s no telling what their setup or usage will be this year. Rieder could be a fixture of the top unit, or he could be planted to the bench. There’s just no telling what could happen in that regard.
Who this helps
It depends which centre he lines up with, but it would make sense he skates with one of Strome and Draisaitl. If Rieder can find his finish, and Strome sees a rebound in his shooting percentage, it can help Strome push his point totals back to his career high in 2014-15 of 50. If he ends up with Draisaitl, it provides Draisaitl with a winger who can get him the puck in the neutral zone and finish the play in the offensive zone. It would help Leon ‘The Professional’ maintain his point rates.
Who this hurts
Undoubtedly, one of Ty Rattie or Drake Caggiula is going to be on the top line with Connor McDavid. That leaves one Puljujarvi, Rieder, and one of the two names mentioned above for the 2RW, 3RW, and 4RW. Given Rieder’s previous international history with Draisaitl, my instinct tells me this is going to push Puljujarvi down to the third line to start the year. He obviously can play himself up the lineup, or Rattie/Caggiula are inconsistent with McDavid to the point of demotion, so it’s not something that will last through April. But to start the year, don’t be surprised to see Puljujarvi in the bottom-6, and thus his breakout delayed.
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