by Lisa McRitchie on 02/13/12 at 04:00 AM ET
Griffin Reinhart and the Edmonton Oil Kings have been having an amazing season. The Oil Kings are leading the Eastern Division of the WHL and Reinhart is second in points for defencemen on the team. Leading the team is Oilers’ prospect Martin Gernat but the two are separated by only 4 goals, but 13 points.
Reinhart has 12 goals, 16 assists, 23 penalty minutes and is a +15 all with a quarter of a season left to play. These numbers make Reinhart and attractive prospect going into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Reinhart is the lone defenceman of the three Reinhart brothers, all son of Paul the former Calgary Flames’ defenceman. Max and Sam, the other two Reinhart brothers are both forwards and both play for the Kootenay Ice. The oldest brother, Max, has already been drafted by the Calgary Flames and this year the attention has turned to Griffin.
There is another significant difference that sets Griffin apart from the other Reinharts, his size. Griffin may be the middle child, but he is by far the largest and he still has time to add another inch or two. Reinhart says he gets his size from his mom who stands at 5’9” and had some tall members of her family.
The best think about having a large hockey family has to be the encouragement each brother receives. The brothers can always turn to each other for encouragement and support as well as their parents, but their brothers are going through the same trials. For the Reinhart parents, Griffin feels they don’t care how each son’s team is doing, so long as the Reinhart brothers are finding personal success.
Griffin Reinhart earned a position at this year’s CHL Top Prospects game and not only played for team Orr but also earned the third star of the game for scoring the team’s only goal. Quite the accomplishment when you look at the level and amount of talented players at the game.
The experience of playing at the Top Prospects game was just what Reinhart needed at the mid-point of the season “I just compared myself to all of the other top players in the CHL. So it was a good thing to see what I need to work on and who I’m competition against.”
Playing in the Top Prospects game also gave Griffin a chance to see how he measures up himself. It’s not an everyday or every practice opportunity to see how fast your shot is but in Kelowna during the Top Prospects events, Reinhart found out that his slapshot measures approximately 95 Miles per hour. Reinhart seemed almost disappointed with his number, but that was basically the same as what was recorded by Toronto Maple Leaf’s captain Dion Phaneuf at the NHL All Stars Skills Competition.
In the WHL, the main focus is player development. For Reinhart this season has been about improving his “Intensity and my foot movement. Just being able to move my feet more and whenever I’m doing that I’m able to play better hockey.”
Whatever Reinhart is doing, it is working to get him on the scoresheet, keep his team on top of the standings and increasing his profile going into this year’s draft.
Reinhart attributes his team’s success to a bit of everything. “We’re well coached and playing with a bunch of good players obviously helps us.” Teammate Michael St. Croix is fifth in the WHL for scoring, and every single Oil King has points on the season, including goaltender Laurent Brossoit who has 3.
Of course there is always room for improvement. For Reinhart he feels he needs to “Just keep skating and keep working defencively. That’s going to be the best thing I need to work on to play in the NHL the quickest. I’m just concentrating on my mobility and my ability to play a solid defensive game.”
Speaking of the NHL, Reinhart hopes to be there sooner rather than later. “Hopefully I can [play in the NHL] as soon as possible, but I’m not expecting to be able to make it next year. It doesn’t happen too often but eventually in the next couple of years hopefully.” Depending on what team gets him, what their depth is like and what Reinhart plays like when the teams comes Reinhart may be a very young defenceman in the NHL. Just like his dad Paul, who was 19 when he played his first season in the NHL.
When I spoke with Reinhart in October about the possibility of being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers and the young defenceman seemed to have put put thought into the possibilities ” “I think that would be pretty cool, not just against my brother because there would be a battle of Alberta now, but I’d also be against my dad as well because he was a Calgary pick. That would be pretty neat. “I think that would be pretty cool, not just against my brother because there would be a battle of Alberta now, but I’d also be against my dad as well because he was a Calgary pick. That would be pretty neat.” Reinhart went on to explain “Playing for Edmonton would be a good situation for me, obviously being with the Oil Kings, and I watch the Oilers every day. It would feel like home to me. So, it would mean a lot to me.”
But, when I spoke with Reinhart following the 9-5 Oil Kings beat down of the Calgary Hitmen in Calgary Reinhart seemed to have a different take on the situation.“That would be good playing for the Oilers. Obviously playing there for their junior hockey I’m familiar with it but at the same time if I was with the Flames it would be a good team to be with. Both organizations would be fine with me.” Reinhart is a smart player both on and off of the ice, he knows to be cautious what he says while speaking to the media in Calgary about the Oilers. But also there is the current situation of the Oilers and the Flames. The possibility that either team could be in a position to draft him is real enough.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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