Few players on the Arizona Coyotes roster came into the 2016-17 season with more drama than Tobias Rieder, at least publicly.
General Manager John Chayka and Rieder's agent Darren Ferris tap-danced over Rieder's worth for months leading up the season - with notable highlights of threatening to play in the KHL - and suggesting that Rieder's worth was comparable to established Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri.
A lot of that may have just been negotiation tactics, since ultimately Rieder accepted a two-year, $4.45 million deal. And from there, Rieder continued to be the player that Coyotes fans have become accustomed to: a speedy, penalty-killing phenom with just enough scoring touch to strain defenses.
In terms of 2016-17, Rieder set a career high in goals with 16, something he's done every season he's been in the NHL. Part of that is a slight uptick in shooting percentage, which hints it might have been luck-based, but it also suggests Rieder is becoming better at converting his chances.
Tobias Rieder’s Production
And while his numbers aren't exactly world-beating, it's hard to watch Rieder and say he doesn’t pass the eye test. He's undoubtedly skilled, but it's his smarts, instincts, and effort that stand out when you watch Rieder play. Take a look at some of these goals he scored throughout the season and see how often Rieder can get behind defenses and make something out of nothing:
Moments like these paint the picture beautifully for what Tobias Rieder continues to bring to the Coyotes. His mere presence and break-away threat make the Coyotes a better team, not to mention his versatility to play anywhere in the lineup.
2016-17 even saw him getting some time on the power play, something that wasn't a huge part of his game in the past.
And then there's Rieder’s defensive game, which continues to be about as strong as there is on the roster. Dave Tippett puts a lot of confidence in him, with only defenseman Alex Goligoski sporting more short-handed time on ice than Rieder.
Rieder's consistency, versatility, and multi-faceted game all lead me to a grade of A- for the season. An A or A+ type season would likely involve him crossing the 20-goal plateau, a reasonable expectation for your second-line right wing. Granted, Rieder more closely resembles a third-liner, but he's a dang good one, who isn't too far off from being a good second-liner.
All of this to say that this upcoming season is a crucial year for the Coyotes' German Army knife. With the contract drama that preceded the season, one has to wonder how the Coyotes and Rieder's camp will handle the 2018-19 negotiations.
Rieder was even showing strong at the 2017 IIHF World Championship for team Germany before sustaining an ankle injury, which helps his case in negotiations.
A career year out of Tobias Rieder could be costly for the Coyotes, but he is still a restricted free agent next year. And if he continues to bump up the goal number without sacrificing the finer parts of his game, the Coyotes are looking at a key piece worth keeping around on a multi-year deal.
The grades of all the other Coyotes players can be found on our master post here.
What Grade Would You Give Tobias Rieder?
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