Griffin Reinhart is a big young man.
That’s probably the first thing anyone can say about him. He’s 6’4″ and 207 pounds, definitely not a featherweight by any means. He’s got the solid frame and the reach that any coach would want on his team’s blueline (and, might I add, a handshake to match).
He’s also got a hockey heritage of sorts, his father Paul having played for the Flames and Canucks (and was apparently pretty solid before back problems ended his career). His brother Max was also drafted by the Flames two years ago. And according to scouts, he’s a blueliner with an offensive edge and agility in spite of his size.
With all of that in mind, no doubt, the Islanders selected Reinhart with their #4 pick in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft Friday night. He had finished his 2011-12 season with his highest goal (12) and point (36) totals to date with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Central Scouting Services had him ranked as the #10 North American skater available, but the Isles passed on Matt Dumba and Morgan Rielly — players with excellent talent and potential, but perhaps just not the size Garth Snow felt we need — to grab Reinhart in what my friends and I felt was the start of an increasingly random series of events throughout the first round at Consol Energy Center.
This isn’t to say that I think the Isles made a mistake. Far from it. I’ve read scouting reports touting his mobility, his shot, and his hockey acumen. As I’ve said before, he’s a big guy, and if he can use his body to finish checks and be aggressive, then so much the better. Some scouts say that he doesn’t have much of a mean streak, but I would imagine a year or two would fix that problem. After all, if you can’t use your size, then there’s no way you can really make the NHL (then again, Milan Jurcina played two seasons for us, so… who knows).
There’s also a concern about his consistency; he has “all the tools to be an NHL-defenseman,” according to one report, but seems “disinterested in the game” at times. I also chalk this up to age, for the most part; he’s eighteen, and though there are those rare sparkling gems who can pretty much make the ice part like the Red Sea for them every single night, most eighteen-year-olds go through ebbs and flows. I’m more interested in the idea that he seems to be a mature young man and is learning how to become a better defenseman; not only that, but he’s also helped lead the Oil Kings to the Memorial Cup, so he has that kind of experience as well.
Overall, I find this pick to be a good one for the Islanders so far. We all know that a good player in a junior league doesn’t necessarily translate to a good player in the NHL, but if he continues his progress, he could be a couple of short years away from his rookie season on the Island.
Welcome, Griffin Reinhart, and best of luck to you.
Notes: The Islanders managed to fix their immediate blueline issues (a bit) by acquiring Lubomir Visnovsky from the Ducks in exchange for a second-rounder in the 2013 Draft. Cool beans, especially considering Steve Staios is apparently now a scouting executive in the Maple Leafs organization (whaaa?).