With the 114th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers struck gold with the selection of Tobias Rieder. Very rarely do fourth round picks pan out, but Rieder became an effective NHL player and established himself as a top-nine option in the league.
The problem? Edmonton, the team that drafted him, didn’t benefit from this development. The Arizona Coyotes, rather, ended up with a solid young player after an astute trade in April of 2013. Steve Tambellini’s final trade as Oiler GM stung quite a bit. That is, it stung until July 1st, 2018.
The sting subsided when Rieder agreed to a one-year contract worth $2,000,000 on July 1st, returning to the organization that took a chance on him seven years prior.
So…..Just Who Is Tobias Rieder?:
The 25 year old German forward is small (5’11” and just 188 pounds) but he brings strong ability to the table. Rieder will greatly help the team speed of the Edmonton Oilers, while also providing stronger defensive play to the group of forwards we see on a nightly basis.
It might not seem like much, but speed and defensive ability were major holes last year in Edmonton. Rieder won’t fix it on his own, but he certainly will help the club improve in those areas. Speaking of improvement, Oiler fans should expect to see Rieder get a heavy dose of penalty kill work this coming season. It is another one of his strengths.
In 78 games split between Arizona and Los Anagels, Rieder posted 25 points (12-13-25) to go with a -12 rating. It was a step down for the German, who scored over 30 points in each of the prior two seasons (37 in 2015-16, 34 in 2016-17).
Rieder isn’t an offensive dynamo by any means, but he’s a quality player with the ability to post offense when put in good situations. In Arizona, he largely played a shutdown role and wasn’t able to generate the offense he might be capable of. He has enough skill, in my mind, to play a top-six role and is likely to get that chance in Edmonton.
He averaged 14:39 TOI per game last season and his career average is 16:33, so he’ll need to handle more ice time if he wants that role higher up the lineup.
Here’s a look at Rieder’s scouting report via The Hockey News.
Assets: Has natural scoring instincts and good hockey sense. Is versatile enough to play in any game situation. Is also very creative with the puck, and owns excellent hands.
Flaws: Does not have ideal size for the National Hockey League game and lacks grit, so he must get stronger and prove he can continue to produce points over the long haul.
Career Potential: Talented, versatile forward with a little upside.
What Can We Expect?:
Rieder is going to make the Oilers, that much we know for sure. What role he plays, however, is still up for debate. It’s almost a given that he’ll be in the team’s top-nine, but will he play with Ryan Strome or Leon Draisaitl? It would make sense to give him a chance on the second line for a few reasons.
Chief among them is the fact that Rieder and Draisaitl, both German, are friends. That makes them candidates to have some real chemistry together. Rieder has the speed to keep up, and can be the defensive mind for the unit. It is also my belief that he has the skills to handle that kind of role.
Rieder is likely to get a heavy dose of penalty killing time this season, and could be a candidate for powerplay time as well if he meshes with Draisaitl during training camp and into the early portions of the season.
My expectation for Rieder? He becomes a mainstay on the penalty kill and registers between 35-40 points this season. That would be in line with his 2015-16 and 2016-17 production and would represent a solid season for a middle-six forward. Heck, we might even be able to call him a value contract if that happens.