Top-5 Draft Pick Expectation
Looking ahead to the 2014 NHL Entry draft, there are many who believe Kootenay Ice centerman, Sam Reinhart, will be selected 1st overall. Reinhart, along with Aaron Ekblad and William Nylander, headline a group that includes Abbotsford product Jake Virtanen, Ivan Barbashev, Brayden Point, Roland McKeown and Nick Ritchie, among others.
There is still a lot of time for players to move up and down in rankings, but Reinhart seems like a lock to go in the top 5.
I had the pleasure to watch him play in both minor hockey and the WHL, and a memory that sticks out in my mind is when he was called up from the Bantam A1 team he was captaining, to the Midget A1 team at Hollyburn Country Club. This was a game which saw Reinhart pot five goals against players who were up to 4 years older than him. He also put up 78 points in 34 games in the BC Major Midget league as a rookie before jumping to Kootenay full-time.
At the age of 15, he was called up to play in four regular season games for the Ice, recording two goals- the first of which came on his first shift in the WHL. He also stuck around for 7 playoff games on the eventual WHL championship team, and while he didn’t record a point in playoffs, Reindhart saw ice-time in special team situations, again, as a 15-year-old.
The following season in his 16-year old rookie year, Sam put up 62 points in 67 regular season games and was awarded the league’s Rookie of the Year honour. The following year, the totals increased to 85 points in 72 games.
Reinhart also has earned a number of accolades which include the aforementioned WHL Rookie of the year nod, being selected as a Second Team WHL All-star in 2012-13 and the titles of top forward and top scorer at the Telus Cup in 2011.
He has also represented Canada internationally twice- most recently captaining the U-18 team to gold at the prestigious Ivan Hlinka Tournament. This helped garner him an invite to this summer’s Team Canada u-20 World Junior camp as a 17 year-old.
You may have also heard about some other members of the Reinhart family. After being selected 12th overall, his father, Paul Reinhart, had a very successful NHL career with the Calgary Flames (one year with the Atlanta Flames) and then later the Vancouver Canucks .
His two older brothers, Max and Griffin, were selected 63rd by the Calgary Flames (2010) and 4th overall by the New York Islanders (2012) respectively. Sam has the chance to be the highest pick in the family and potential to be the best of the bunch.
Listed at 6’1 and 186 lbs, Sam Reinhart is not overly big, although he plays much bigger than his body suggests and isn’t afraid to go into the corners with larger opponents. He also isn’t overly fast, but he uses his speed effectively to find open areas of the ice to create time and space for himself. Equipped with a good shot, he can put the puck in the net, as the point totals show.
Sam Reinhart is a player who makes those around him better and projects to be a future top-line forward in the NHL. The attributes that stand out are his strong two-way game, leadership and, maybe most of all, his hockey IQ.
Furthermore, Reinhart is a coach’s dream- a player who you want out in every situation, who works his butt off and is responsible defensively. My younger brother has the opportunity to play on Sam’s team and gets to see, first hand, just how hard he works on and off the ice to get better every day. Add up all of the characteristics he possesses and Reinhart is a good bet to continue his developement and eventually flourish in the NHL.
As I said earlier, much can happen between now and next summer’s NHL draft, but all signs point to Sam Reinhart being a top selection based on his abilities, projection, work ethic and intangibles. He will follow fellow graduates of the Hollyburn Hockey program in West Vancouver as NHL top prospects, such as Morgan Reilly (5th overall to Toronto in 2012), brother Griffin, Alex Kerfoot (New Jersey), and others. Reinhart has the opportunity to be the best of the bunch and a legitimate shot to go #1 overall next year.