With a father who played in the NHL and an older brother who was an NHL draft pick two years before he was, Griffin Reinhart has the pedigree of a true hockey player. This season, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 Draft is hoping to continue to follow in his family’s footsteps.
Paul Reinhart had a very solid career as an NHLer, scoring 560 points in 648 games for the Atlanta/Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks from 1979 to 1990. Griffin’s older brother, Max, was drafted by the Flames in 2010 and played in 11 games for Calgary last season.
For the Islanders' highest draft pick in this year's Rookie Camp, being surrounded by hockey players was commonplace.
“For me, I don’t know anything different,” Reinhart said. “My dad played in the NHL, my uncle was drafted by the Maple Leafs and decided to go to college. For me, it’s just pretty normal and I wouldn’t know what it’s like without it.”
Reinhart, a highly-touted prospect coming into the draft, was part of an outstanding crop of draft-eligible Western Hockey League defensemen that year.
“I had talked to a lot of teams so I really had no idea where I was going to go.” Reinhart said. “Obviously it was a bit of a surprise but definitely a lot of excitement coming here.”
Following the draft, he returned to his junior team, the Edmonton Oil Kings, for the 2012-13 season, unable to participate in NHL preseason activities due to the work stoppage.
“Last year was a little tough with the lockout,” Reinhart said. “So this year I’ll be able to really get a feel for where I’m at. I’m going to do everything I can to make this team.”
In three full WHL seasons, Reinhart has showcased his abilities both offensively and defenseively. He’s scored 90 points (26 goals, 64 assists) and has a plus-60 rating. He has also represented Canada on multiple occasions, including last season’s World Junior Championships.
Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Scott Pellerin, who has led drills all week, has been impressed with the way the North Vancouver, B.C. native has looked in his first Rookie Camp.
“I feel like he’s progressing and he’s moving the puck well,” Pellerin said. “He’s a really, really good skater. I’m real happy with his attention to detail and the way he’s been paying attention to our development staff.”
As a former NHL defenseman, Islanders Director of Player Development Eric Cairns has had his eyes on the blueliners all week. Like Pellerin, he likes what he sees from Reinhart.
“He looks really good,” Cairns said. “This summer, Griff took a step in his off-ice training and really put some good work in. He’s working hard on the little details of the game. He’s a smart defenseman who moves the puck very well and a big, tall guy with a long reach who can use that to defend.”
Pellerin likes that the Islanders have someone like Cairns on staff who can really be a mentor to the camp's defensemen, six of whom are still teenagers. Both coaches got a better look at Reinhart Sunday, the first day in which the players at camp took part in 5-on-5 play.
“He’s put a lot of hours in with our younger defensemen as far as going through the fundamentals and getting their habits down,” Pellerin said. “You can see that translating into Griffin’s play during practice time and especially today during the scrimmage.“
Reinhart and the 30 other players in attendance at Islanders Rookie Camp will continue to skate through Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum. Islanders Training camp will commence on Wednesday.