After just four games with the Flames, Max Reinhart has been sent back down to the AHL. It's not because anybody is ready to come off the injured reserve, though. It's to give Corban Knight, who has been called up, a chance.
Reinhart's time in the NHL so far this season was brief and uneventful. After playing 10:52 against the Carolina Hurricanes, his ice time for the next three games averaged just above seven minutes. He had no points, three shots on net, and poor possession stats (43.94% CF) in favourable conditions.
With so many prospects chomping at the bit, and Reinhart evidently not yet up to the task of being an NHL regular, the Flames are giving Knight a shot. When Knight was first acquired by Jay Feaster for a fourth round pick, he was immediately given the low number 10, suggesting the Flames expected him in the NHL sooner rather than later. That didn't quite pan out, but now may be his chance.
Knight is two years older than Reinhart. He played four years at the University of North Dakota, putting up 146 points over 161 games. Last season was his first pro year, and he performed relatively well, scoring 18 goals and 44 points over 70 games with the Abbotsford Heat, and earning his first NHL recall. He comes up with seven NHL games and a goal already under his belt.
Knight is currently tied for second in Adirondack scoring, with five goals and eight points over 16 games. The baby Flames got off to a slow start, but have been on a roll recently, winning six straight games.
This doesn't signal the end for Reinhart, although it's curious how he's played fewer games and gets less ice time every time he's been called up. In the 2013 season, he played 14 games for the Flames, averaged 14:25 in ice time, and scored a goal and two assists. In 2013-14, he played eight games, and averaged just 10:42 in ice time, plus two assists. This season, it's been significantly less, and with more and more prospects in the cupboards - especially centres like Knight - his time seems to be running out.
At the same time, Reinhart is still a young guy, and he has potential. It just wasn't working out at this point in the season.
Now it's Knight's turn to try to make an impression, and maybe even force management's hand. His former roommate Josh Jooris did it. (Poor Ben Hanowski - he's the only one of the trio now still down in the minors, and he's tied for Adirondack's lead in scoring [six goals and nine points in 12 games], but he's just not a centre. Bill Arnold is, and also has nine points, but he's still a rookie, so it's understandable why Knight gets the call first.)