Reinhart's advanced stats show he's not just a product of Eichel

Sam Reinhart is on pace to smash his career-high total in points this season

Joe DiBiase
January 11, 2019 - 1:53 pm

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

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When Jack Eichel returned to practice this week, my initial thought was to write something for our website outlining how Sam Reinhart's production drops when playing without Eichel. It sounds like something that would be true, it seems like something that would be true, considering the two players' skill level and style.

Eichel is a puck possession player who has elite finishing and playmaking ability. Reinhart is a clever player, who does most of his work around the net. A good playmaker yes, but not a guy that you want carrying the puck into the offensive zone. When looking at many metrics for Reinhart playing with and without Jack Eichel, I was surprised to say the least.

Reinhart has played just under half of his NHL career, about 1,500 minutes, with Eichel. The forward he's played the most with. Evander Kane is second at 912 minutes played with No. 23.

Each advanced stat at five-on-five (according to NaturalStatTrick.com) for Reinhart is about the same away from and with Jack Eichel. Only a 1% drop in Corsi, an essentially identical Fenwick percentage, just a 0.5% drop in shots for, less than a two-percent decrease in scoring chances for, and less than a 1% drop in high danger scoring chances for.

For those that aren't super familiar with what some of these stats are:

  • Corsi = Any shot attempt (goals, shots on goal, misses, & blocks)
  • Fenwick = Unblocked shot attempts (goals, shots on goal, & misses)
  • Shots for = % of total shots while that player is on the ice

I expected big drop offs in these numbers away from Eichel, but there wasn't. Except for one stat. Goals for percentage. Amount of goals the Sabres score while on the ice, as opposed to the other team. With Jack Eichel, that number is 53-percent. Without, 43-percent. Many things could explain this, but the most likely explanation is that Eichel scores on a much higher rate of his scoring chances, than other linemates Reinhart has played with.

If you flip the stats, there's a decline in Eichel's numbers away from his roommate. Not a huge difference, but it's there. You can definitively say, looking at the numbers, that both players are better with each other.

This year, Reinhart is on pace to smash his career-high 50-points. He's currently on pace for 76. While the advanced stuff looks about the same with and without Eichel, the points do not. About 56% of Reinhart's five-on-five ice time has been spent with Jack this season. Even strength, he's contributed 21 points with Eichel, and six points without. The rest have come on the power play.

I don't think it's fair to blame Reinhart for just six even strength points in 45% of his ice time. Those shifts are spent with limited offensive players like Vladimir Sobotka, Johan Larsson, Evan Rodrigues, etc. It seems, to me, that it's a great sign that Reinhart is still creating chances, regardless of who his center is. Just last game, he set up two glorious scoring chances that Rodrigues and Conor Sheary failed to score on. If that's Eichel receiving those passes, they very well could've been goals.

One last thing to look at when going in depth on Reinhart is where he scores his goals. All Sabres fans have come to realize that he's going to make his money around the net. Without blazing speed or a dangerous shot, he's found what he has to do to be productive.

This is a heat map via icydata.hockey showing all of Reinhart's career goals:

Just for comparison, here's Eichel's:

It's easy to see that Eichel can score from anywhere, while Reinhart is limited when it comes to his shot.

One final conclusion on Reinhart is he's not a flashy player that does a lot of things fans don't notice that makes him a great player. Taking a look at all his numbers, coupled with the fact that he's only 23-years-old and on a team friendly contract, I'm much more optimistic than I was that Reinhart is a core player of this team's future.

That does not mean that he has no limitations to his game. Without a player on his line that possesses an elite finishing ability, Reinhart will struggle to put up points. If you give him one elite finisher, like Eichel, he'll put up some pretty good numbers. If you give him two elite finishers, like Eichel and Skinner, it looks like he could be a point per-game player in the NHL.

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