Griffin Reinhart, Defense (Left) Edmonton Oil Kings, Western Hockey League 6'4" 205 Pounds, 1/24/1994
A huge player at this stage of game whose skating is starting to catch up...gets around quite well, but footwork will have to continue to improve as he can get beaten wide...hard to play against because of his reach and size...physicality needs to be more predatory in nature, but finishes his checks with zeal...moves the puck well with a good first pass...great vision allows him to find open forwards up ice consistently...owns a heavy shot, one that needs to be employed more often...there are differing opinions on who he will be at the next level...skating, size, and competitiveness could make him a high end defender at the next level...unafraid to skate the puck up the ice...uses size well to win leverage and positioning battles in own end...makes good decisions on a consistent basis...good hockey sense.
Why Reinhart at 7?:
Dan: Griffin Reinhart is potentially the "horse quality" crease clearing guy Minnesota has lacked for years, and with some coaxing and patience, may have offensive upside that could make him a sizable two-way threat. It may take some time and seasoning, but if Minnesota feels that it is there, then they'd certainly entertain taking him. One of the more under-reported elements to Reinhart is the in-house support system he has- his Father, Paul Reinhart, was an NHL defenseman and can provide insight and perspective on the things that it takes to make it to the National Hockey League. At the very minimum, I've heard Reinhart analogized as Justin Falk, whose sort of bounced in and out of the Wild lineup the last two years- a mobile defense-first guy, but someone with some skill too. The one thing I'm curious about is the consistent reports that Reinhart just isn't mean enough- that added aggression could really elevate his defensive presence and make him more intimidating than he is. However, if that's not his nature, then that may just be something a team would have to deal with. He's already been mentioned as one of the five players Edmonton is considering with the First Overall Pick, so like Teuvo Tervainen, he very well may be off the board by the time Minnesota steps to the podium.
Nate: Reinhart is a tantalizing player with size and vision that Minnesota covets and which Dan summed up well. Despite not being the most complete player available in the draft as an 18 year-old, the sky is limit if he can put everything together. That isn't to say Reinhart is a slouch - besides having the experience of a Memorial Cup run with the Oil Kings, he logged heavy minutes as Edmonton's most-counted on D - but it's not all there yet.
I got the opportunity to watch a small sample size of Reinhart during the Memorial Cup and did not come away impressed. He looked good in terms of getting the puck and positioning for the most part but his skating and footwork needed work. The better players from London and Saint John (including Charlie Coyle and Jonathan Huberdeau) weren't afraid to beat him to the outside and make Griffin pay the few times he was out of position. He wasn't physical and didn't get a chance to unleash his shot.
(I've also spoken with people who watch Reinhart on a regular basis and speak highly of his body of work over the entire season. Edmonton struggled throughout the Memorial Cup and no one on that team played well.)
Regardless, the tools are there and possibilities make Reinhart worthy of a top-ten pick (and even off the board before the Wild pick at #7) but anyone picking Griffin has to have confidence in the 6'4" defenseman continuing to develop his skating and skills over the next 2-3 years.
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