Griffin Reinhart seemed likely to be the last of the three Reinhart brothers who will get regular NHL ice time, but he’s being given a golden opportunity to fast-track his path to the big leagues.
Drafted fourth overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Reinhart is a former Edmonton Oil Kings captain — who led his team to the Memorial Cup championship last spring with Arizona Coyotes centre Henrik Samuelsson and Ottawa Senators forward Curtis Lazar — who’s been tearing it up in the AHL this season. The 21-year old blue liner, who stands at a massive six foot four, looks to be a high-end prospect for the Islanders in the long run — but with a still-improving all around game that seemed to get better with every additional year of development, the team chose to keep him in the minors following his WHL career.
Despite still looking like he may need extra time with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, though, the team ultimately decided that he would be their best bet in the absence of veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky for game five of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Recalled earlier in the week, Reinhart made his NHL post-season debut in place of the older skater (who was injured following a particularly hard check by Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson).
He looked like he still needed to speed his game up after a three-game debut at the NHL level this past fall, but a strong post-season appearance is the best thing that could happen to the middle Reinhart brother. While most top-ranked defensive prospects catch team’s eyes due to their strong offensive prowess or puck-moving skills, Griffin Reinhart is the quintessential all-around defenseman; good in all three zones with a decent scoring upside but ease and confidence when defending an oncoming rush, Reinhart could become a staple in all situations for the Islanders long-term. He looks to be a future top-pairing skater, but is flexible enough to slot in wherever he’s most needed — and with his good ability to react to unexpected plays, he’s got potential as a second power-play unit contributor and a top penalty killer.