Tobias Rieder was chosen 114th overall by the Oilers in the 2011 draft. For the past three seasons, he has been playing for the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. Josh Brown covers the Rangers for the Waterloo Region Record and kindly answered a few questions concerning Rieder. (Josh also has an excellent blog called Rangers Report.)
ME: In 2011-12, Rieder had 42 goals and 43 assists. He was also fantastic in the playoffs, amassing 13 goals and 14 assists in 16 games. So far this season, Rieder has only 14 goals and 16 assists in 30 games. Why has there been such a big drop in his offensive totals?
JB: Rieder played on the team’s top line, PP and penalty killing unit last year alongside captain Michael Catenacci who was a natural set up man. The pair had fantastic chemistry and Catenacci set up 21 of Rieder’s 42 goals. It’s pretty amazing when you consider Catenacci missed 16 games with injuries, so he was only on the ice for about 30 of Rieder’s goals. That is the main reason for the drop in his totals. Rieder has had rotating linemates this season due to team injuries, world junior commitments (the Rangers had four guys gone) and NHL camps. Rieder didn’t play a game in December and is now getting back into a groove. He has one goal in each of the Rangers’ past four games.
ME: As an NHL prospect, one of the knocks against Rieder is his size. On the Kitchener Rangers website, he’s listed as 5’11″ and 190 pounds. How accurate do you think those measurements are?
JB: I have no reason to dispute the measurements. He isn’t a big guy, but is solid and good along the boards. But he’s no doubt a skilled played, not a physical one.
ME: After suffering a foot injury, there was some uncertainty as to whether or not Rieder would be able to play for Germany in the World Junior Hockey Championship. First, what did you think of Rieder’s performance in the tournament? And, second, how is his health now?
JB: He had a fractured foot (Nov. 30) and was in a walking boot and on crutches at the beginning. I didn’t watch any Germany games at the WJC (not an early riser). But he did lead Germany in scoring in the B pool last year to get the Germans up into the top division. And this is the first time, I believe, in a dozen years that Germany was not relegated from the main group. That was a huge deal for Rieder and the team. His health is back to 100 percent now.
ME: Since returning from Russia, how well has Rieder been playing for Kitchener?
JB: As mentioned, great. He has five goals and two assists in seven games. He’s back on the top line and has been shifted to centre (at the Oilers’ request) for a few games. He’s been buzzing around the net and creating scoring chances like he did last year.
ME: Other than scoring and playmaking, what other skills does Rieder possess? For example, how is he as a penalty killer?
JB: He is a great penalty killer. He led the Rangers with seven shorties last year (good for second in the OHL). He takes the point, has speed and has a knack for picking off passes across the blueline and converting the breakaways for goals. He’s well liked, friendly to the media and one of the Rangers’ top players.