David Reinbacher’s first year of development after being selected by the Canadiens with the No. 5 overall pick at last year’s NHL Draft didn’t go very well.

The Canadiens returned the defenceman to the Swiss-A league for a second season with Kloten HC. Kloten had lost six of its first nine games before Reinbacher arrived after attending his first Canadiens training camp.

Things didn’t get better for Kloten after Reinbacher arrived and the 19-year-old defenceman suffered two injuries — one to his knee and another to his hand. Kloten went through three head coaches and finished the season in 13th place in the 14-team league with a 17-29-6 record. Reinbacher had 1-10-11 totals in 35 games, along with a minus-15 differential.

Rob Ramage, the Canadiens’ director of player development, went to visit the struggling Reinbacher. He showed him video of former Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber, trying to get Reinbacher to simplify his game.

“It was a tough season in Kloten,” Ramage said last week when the Canadiens held their development camp in Brossard. “He went through three coaches. He had such a good (training) camp here. His maturity on the ice is beyond what he is off the ice. I think I went in there end of November. He had just come back from injury. The team was struggling, he was struggling.

“We had some really good conversations when we were there,” Ramage added. “I think there were a lot of voices hitting on him at that point and I really wanted him to simplify that. Sometimes these guys can really overthink the game and that will translate right into their hands and their feet. So we did that and his second half was better and then I think he played very well when he came to Laval.”

Reinbacher played 11 games with the AHL’s Laval Rocket after Kloten’s season ended, posting 2-3-5 totals and a plus-6 differential. He didn’t attend the Canadiens’ development camp last week, with the team preferring the Austrian stay home to continue his summer training.

Ramage said he was “real happy” Reinbacher got to play games in Laval and he will probably start next season with the Rocket.

“That’s going to help him this year when he comes to camp,” Ramage said. “Those were critical games. We were fighting for a playoff spot and he did well.”

Former Rocket head coach Jean-François Houle agrees.

“The experience a young player can get off those seven or 10 games, look at what it did for (Jayden) Struble last year,” Houle, who left the Rocket last month to become head coach at Clarkson University, said at the end of last season. “Struble was with us seven games, six games (it was actually nine games two seasons ago), had confidence, came back this year, had a good camp, started with us and played in the NHL.”

Houle noted that Reinbacher had good gap control and a “really good” stick, but added the 6-foot-3, 209-pounder needs to get stronger.

This season, Ramage will be keeping an eye on Ivan Demidov, selected fifth overall by the Canadiens at this year’s NHL Draft. At least Ramage will be trying to do that — but it will be more difficult with Demidov playing the final season of his contract in Russia with the St. Petersburg SKA club in the KHL.

“It’s a little different with the Russians right now — especially with what’s going on in our world,” Ramage said. “But we’ll have eyes on him. Nick Bobrov (the Canadiens’ co-director of amateur scouting) is very connected (in Russia). So we’ll do our best. But it’s a bit more of a difficult situation.

“I met him briefly in Las Vegas after the draft,” Ramage added about Demidov, who had 23-37-60 totals in 30 games last season with the St. Petersburg junior team and was held pointless in four KHL games. “Solid. Seemed like a confident young man. Very excited to be a Montreal Canadien.”

Demidov doesn’t have a Canadian visa yet, so he didn’t attend the development camp. But he’s definitely looking forward to playing for the Canadiens and isn’t worried about the pressure that will come with being a high first-round pick in Montreal.

“I think it’s good because fans really love hockey and I, too, love hockey,” Demidov told reporters in Las Vegas after getting drafted. “That’s why it’s not a problem for me.”

Demidov also believes he can become a game-breaker for the Canadiens, who are desperate to add more offence from their forwards after ranking 26th in the NHL in scoring last season and 27th on the power play.

“My idol in sports in Kobe Bryant,” Demidov said about the former NBA star who died four years ago in a helicopter crash. “Every season I try to take his Mamba Mentality …. his instinct killer. I think I won many games (with St. Petersburg) when I score winning goal. I think I can be a game-breaker, too, in Montreal.”

The Canadiens certainly hope so.

They also hope Reinbacher can develop into a solid NHL defenceman.

[email protected]

x.com/StuCowan1