UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Griffin Reinhart was 19 years old when he arrived at training camp with the New York Islanders last September, but he made a strong case to stay with them rather than be sent back to his junior team, the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League.
New York's first-round pick (No. 4) at the 2012 NHL Draft, the 6-foot-4, 217-pound defenseman impressed Islanders brass at training camp and scored a goal in a preseason game against the Calgary Flames. But instead of throwing him into the fire at the sport's highest level, it was determined Reinhart would be better served returning to the WHL.
In his final season of junior hockey, Reinhart learned what it takes to become a champion. The Oil Kings captain played 66 games in the regular season and playoffs, and combined for 34 points and a plus-31 rating, leading Edmonton to a Memorial Cup championship.