Tobias Rieder chasing the puck-carrier.
Tobias Rieder's season came to an end when the Kitchener Rangers were swept out of the OHL playoffs by the London Knights a couple of weeks ago. Rieder scored three goals and one assist in the series to go along with an even rating during five-on-five play (+2 -2). Those are solid numbers considering his team was swept, but it's practically a disappearing act compared to Rieder's outstanding numbers in Kitchener's other two series in which he scored ten goals and thirteen assists with a +3 rating during five-on-five play (+11 -8) in just twelve games.
So how excited should Oiler fans be about this prospect? Should he be considered for NHL employment next season, or is he likely to need some more time? Obviously, I'm not going to come to any definite conclusions, but I will take a look at some of Rieder's historical comparables to give us an idea of where he might land.
The first thing to do here is set up some criteria for what constitutes a comparable player. To start, I'm looking for players who played both their draft and draft +1 seasons in the CHL. Draft position is also a helpful guideline, but with these later picks, you can't be overly precise, and so I settled on using a fairly wide range, namely all forwards who were drafted between 89th and 139th overall in their first year of eligibility from 1995 to 2007. I then looked for players who were within 0.15 adjusted points per game of Rieder in both seasons (including both regular season and playoff totals). The points are adjusted to reflect a league that registers 6.80 (non-shootout) goals per game, as the OHL did in this year's regular season. The result shows just how unique Rieder's progression has been with just three matching players (click chart to enlarge):
Even the three matches aren't exactly perfect. Rieder's point totals and goal totals are better in his "draft +1" year than any of the comparables, and in the case of McGrath the huge gap from year one to year two isn't quite as large. That said, I do think this is a helpful reminder that we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves penciling Rieder in as a player who's going to be ready for the NHL in no time. Cautious optimism is warranted but just like Vyacheslav Trukhno, Liam Reddox, and a bunch of other fourth-round picks who looked great in junior, Rieder still has a long way to go.