In hockey, as with all sports, bloodlines go a long way in determining a young player’s future. The Staals are the latest first family of the game, but it may not be long before another trio of siblings makes its presence felt in the National Hockey League.
The Reinhart brothers – Max, Griffin and Sam – are all currently developing in the WHL and could follow in their father’s footsteps in carving out successful NHL careers.
Griffin, 18, a defenseman like his father, Paul – who played in the league from 1979 to 1990 – appears poised to be a top-15 selection in June just two years after older brother Max, 20, was selected 64th overall by the Calgary Flames. Youngest brother Sam, 16, has posted 53 points in 54 games with the Kootenay Ice and could draw early first round consideration in 2014.
But this season the spotlight is squarely on Griffin, whose game is so strong that he’d be a highly touted prospect regardless of his last name.
The first thing that jumps out about the Edmonton Oil King is his considerable size. At 6-foot-4, 202 pounds, Reinhart has one of the largest frames of the 2012 draft class.
Size is one thing, but Reinhart’s ability to remain mobile despite his imposing frame is what sets him apart.
“I’ve become a much better skater this year,” Reinhart explains. “I’ve grown into my body more and become a lot more comfortable. I think that’s helped me a lot with my mobility, it’s gotten a lot smoother.”
Reinhart of course grew up around hockey, but he quickly outgrew the rest of the family. Max stands 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Sam is 6-foot-1, 177 pounds, and Paul played at 5-foot-11, 205 pounds during his career.
But Griffin, whose size comes from his mother’s side of the family, towers over them and that’s part of what’s making scouts drool.
Reinhart’s game isn’t overly flashy, but he’s solid in his own end and also boasts other key traits including a hard shot and very good hockey sense.
“At the end of the game I don’t think that I’m going to be somebody that people really notice,” Reinhart says. “I’m not really a dangler or somebody who pops out to the eye, but I play a steady game and sometimes as a D-man, when you’re not noticed, that’s your best games.”
Reinhart has notched a respectable 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 46 games this season, but his offensive ability isn’t necessarily the key to his future.
Nevertheless, NHL teams love nothing more than a dependable defenseman who can move the puck as well as post some numbers. Reinhart may be just that.
Reinhart’s dependability is part of what makes him so attractive to NHL scouts and one reason why he was ranked eighth by Central Scouting in the January midterm rankings.
Some would like to Reinhart to improve his willingness to play an aggressive game. HP’s Mark Edwards had this to say about Reinhart. “When you’re Griffin’s size, physicality is sometimes expected to be part of the package, but Reinhart isn’t as nasty as some would like him to be. Sure we would love to see him play a little mean sometimes, but for me and our WHL scouts, our biggest concern is still his skating. Griffin has a cannon shot, is a smart player and moves the puck pretty quickly. It’s his quickness we want to see improve.”
“In the past that’s something I was working on, but lately I’ve been starting to become more physical,” Reinhart says. “I’m not an open-ice hitter; I’m more of a guy that will finish checks in the corner and be hard on guys. I’d rather be that than an open-ice hitter; that’s my style of playing.”
Reinhart says he isn’t bothered by concerns over his physicality, but counts both Shea Weber and Chris Pronger among his professional role models. To match Pronger’s snarl may be a difficult task, but Reinhart hopes to become an intimidating presence over time.
“Pronger’s got that edge to him that I want to develop later on in my career,” Reinhart says.
But whether or not Griffin ever becomes the type of defenseman that leaves bodies in his wake, he’s likely to help make “Reinhart” a synonym for success in the hockey community over the next several years.