Tobias Rieder had a fantastic season. During the regular season, he finished fifth in the OHL in goals with 42, and finished in a tie for ninth in points with 85. He took that a step further once the playoffs arrived, leading the OHL in both goals (13) and points (27) even though his team was eliminated in the third round. That's quite the season for a player who wasn't even selected inside the top 100 in his draft year, and has convinced some fans that Rieder needs to be considered a part of the future. Those fans are probably surprised to see his name so early here.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Drafted||Year||Alan ||Ben ||Bruce ||DB ||Derek ||Jon||Ryan||Scott|
Rieder's overall ranking didn't surprise me too much, but the fact that no one ranked him higher than 16th did. That's well outside the range of the top prospects in Edmonton's system, something that's made clear when you see that Rieder was ranked no higher than fourth among players who played in the CHL last season by any member of our panel. Jonathan Willis (who has him fifth among last season's CHL players) ranked him the highest overall and painted a pretty rosy picture:
Rieder's offensive outburst in 2011-12 was significant and made him one of the best scoring options among 2011 draftees in the OHL. In terms of goals-per-game, Rieder was behind only two players (Brandon Saad and Shane Prince); in points-per-game he was behind only those two and (narrowly) behind fifth overall pick Ryan Strome. His draft year offense was less impressive, perhaps in part due to it being his first season in North America, but he made up for it this year and has significantly improved his stock since draft day.
So why isn't he being ranked higher? I think it's in part because he was a late round pick, which means it'll take some time for people to believe in him. As Jonathan mentioned, his previous season was nowhere near as impressive, so there's probably some concern that he won't be able to maintain the high level he showed in 2011-12. When I looked for comparables using those two seasons, they weren't easy to find, which makes this particular player quite difficult to project.
Dawgbone had Rieder ranked the lowest, and he echoed some of these concerns:
Rieder had a much better 2nd year in the OHL, but that's to be expected from guys coming out of their draft year. In an organization littered with small forwards, he’s going to have a tough time finding opportunities with the Oilers unless his offense can translate (which I’m doubtful of). My biggest worry about Rieder is that if his offense doesn’t translate, even if he can bring other things to the rink (PK, strong forecheck, etc..), this management group has decided that small forwards don’t belong in the bottom half of the roster.
You'll notice that size was also added as a concern. Dawgbone mentioned it as an Edmonton issue, which is true. The club has stated several times that they'd like to get bigger up front. But the reality is that Rieder is also just small for an NHL player, and size/strength is one of the reasons his game might not translate all that well -- of the 566 players who appeared in at least 40 games last season, just 101 (17.8%) were listed at 5'11'' or less (a problem that will likely be solved by listing Rieder an inch or two taller whether he grows or not).
I think what it comes down to is our panel remembering that there have been a lot of late draft picks who looked fantastic in the CHL but who couldn't translate that success to the pro game. Some of them do make it, of course, and Rieder may well be one who does, but right now, everyone is being cautious about over-rating him based on one excellent season.