Don’t forget about Steven Reinprecht

One of the most amusing moments of this week’s two-game set between the Abbotsford Heat and the Canucks’ affiliate Chicago Wolves came Wednesday night, during the announcement of Jordan Schroeder’s 3-0 goal. As soon as Schroeder’s name came over the loud speakers, the crowd popped like he was a wrestler preening at the turnbuckle. It was a cheer that far exceeded the one Wolves’ forward Steven Reinprecht received on any the four goals he scored during the visit.

It’s not surprising. Safe to say nobody — except, perhaps, any family he has in the area — came to the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre to see Reinprecht. But he was impossible to miss this week.

Here’s a highlights package from Wednesday’s tilt:

Again, Reinprecht scored four goals during the visit: two in the first period Tuesday, and another two in the second period Wednesday, doubling his goal total on the season. (When told he might have established himself as a scorer, Reinprecht joked, “That doesn’t bode very well for what I had going.”) While the Canucks’ brass made the short jaunt East to see what their future looked like, Reinprecht seemed determined to remind them that he was a viable option right now.

Reinprecht came to the Canucks’ organization in the David Booth deal, and since he was pretty clearly a salary dump for the Panthers, who had already waived him, he was seen as little more than a throw-in. It wouldn’t be the first time: a year after he entered the NHL, signed as an undrafted college player by the Los Angeles Kings in 2000, he was included in the blockbuster deal that sent Rob Blake from the Kings to the Colorado Avalanche. That same year, he would help the Avalanche win their second Stanley Cup.

In 2003-04, Reinprecht was a throw-in again, moved to Calgary in a three-way deal between the Avalanche, the Flames and the Buffalo Sabres. The big pieces in that deal: Chris Drury, who went from Calgary to Buffalo, and Keith Ballard, who went from Buffalo to Colorado.

You might recall that the Flames fell a win short of the Stanley Cup that year. Reinprecht didn’t get to play during the run, having undergone season-ending surgery on his left shoulder, but he was still around the team.

In short, he has some genuine Stanley Cup experience, and if the Canucks make another lengthy postseason run, that could come in handy. Make no mistake: he wasn’t just a a throw-in. Reinprecht is the “break glass in case of emergency” option.

Last February, the Canucks acquired Maxim Lapierre thinking he would be their fourth-line centre, but by the Stanley Cup Final, he was the third line pivot and the only healthy guy down the middle. Henrik Sedin was struggling with his back, Ryan Kesler had practically torn himself in half at the waist, and Manny Malhotra’s comeback, while miraculous, was hardly effective.

Little wonder Lapierre was the best Canuck forward versus Boston.

If Reinprecht finds himself playing for the Canucks this spring, it means something has again gone terribly wrong. With Cody Hodgson’s emergence, the Canucks now boast five centres on the roster, including two on the fourth line in Manny Malhotra and Maxim Lapierre. In short, it would take a devastating round of injuries to necessitate the former Panther’s callup.

But stranger things have happened, and Reinprecht’s performance this week was a reminder to the Canucks’ brass that, if they happen again, he’s around.

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15 comments

  1. stathead
    January 26, 2012

    Read the headline and was like… who? :)

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  2. John Andress
    January 26, 2012

    I have been watching Reinprecht’s season with Chicago and he has been consistently solid and productive for the Wolves. I imagine that he has not appeared in Vancouver because there has been no injuries that would require a call up of a player like him plus his salary is such that cap considerations come into it. He has played well enough that the Canucks must be concerned that were they to call on him he would not clear recall waivers leaving them on the hook for part of his salary against their cap. I have no doubt that when the post season call ups come into effect we will see Steve Reinprect amongst those added to the Canucks’ playoff roster.

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  3. By-Tor
    January 26, 2012

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Gillis, it’s that no one he ever trades for is “just a throw-in”. If he got Reinprecht, it’s because he wanted Reinprecht.

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  4. J21
    January 26, 2012

    I think Reinprecht was quite legitimately a salary dump this time, but funnily enough I was having thoughts about him as a playoff callup just earlier today when I was catching up on all my PITB after a week in Spain and you guys mentioned the Booth trade a few articles ago.

    I think the cap prevents him from seeing any time during the regular season, but I imagine he gets called up in the playoffs as soon as the Wolves’ season is done.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 26, 2012

      I think he was a salary dump on Florida’s side. But I definitely think the Canucks saw a chance to hide some depth in the minors.

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  5. tom selleck's moustache
    January 26, 2012

    It wouldn’t necessitate injuries to the centres for him to be called up though, would it? I would have thought that he could be an option if a winger goes down as well. since it’s supposedly easier for a centre to move to the wing than vice versa. Would he be able to fit in a fourth or third line winger role, if need be?

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    • John Andress
      January 26, 2012

      The issue about calling up Reinprect is not position as much as it is salary cap and recall waivers.

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      • Josh
        January 26, 2012

        I always figured that he was a sure thing to be called up in the event of another deep playoff run. I loved him when he was with the Avalanche and would love to have him if even down on the fourth line.

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      • tom selleck's moustache
        January 26, 2012

        For sure, the playoffs was what I had in mind. To be honest, I have no idea how well he’s playing right now or if he would be able to fill in that kind of role.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 26, 2012

      Maaaaybe. That’d be interesting.

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  6. Qris Johnson
    January 26, 2012

    Won’t Reinprecht then need de-programming?

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    • Harrison Mooney
      January 26, 2012

      Ha. I’m sure he’s getting it as we speak.

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  7. JDM
    January 26, 2012

    Just as a crazy, throwing it out there concept… say he plays wing on the 4th line with Malhotra and Lapierre, making it the lince with 3 centers? Viable? I don’t know if he still has the requisite footspeed, but it might be worth a shot. The experience factor could make him a better option than Weise.

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    • yobbei
      January 27, 2012

      That’ll be very interesting. Can anyone comment on his toughness?

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      • jimbob
        January 27, 2012

        he’s not the biggest guy around,but he goes to the dirty areas and can hold his own. from what i saw in abbotsford he is a very effective penalty killer/ faceoff guy. he kinda reminded me of malhotra a bit.

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