With the fourth overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Islanders General Manager Garth Snow stepped to the podium at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA to select defenseman Griffin Reinhart. The newest Islander is a 6’4”, 197-pound, North Vancouver native who helped lead the Edmonton Oil Kings to a WHL Championship this past season.
Ranked as the no. 10 North American skater by Central Scouting Services, the NHL Network predicted the Islanders to take Reinhart with the Draft’s fourth pick. Reinhart however, had no idea where he would end up.
“I really wasn’t expecting to go anywhere,” he said. “I’m kind of just having fun at the moment. I’m really happy I got chosen here though.”
Reinhart led all Oil Kings defensemen with 12 goals in 58 games this past season. He also had 24 assists during the regular season to total 36 points. In the Oil Kings’ run to the WHL title, Reinhart netted two goals and added six assists for eight points in 20 post-season games.
Reinhart believed the playoff run with the Oil Kings was extremely vital to his development.
“I think it was huge,” Reinhart said. “It gave me a lot of experience, playing in Game 7 of a championship final. There’s nothing like that.”
Snow and the Islanders scouting staff were extremely excited that Reinhart was still on the board when it came turn for the Isles’ pick.
“We were ecstatic to have the opportunity to select him,” said Snow. “He’s obviously got size, hockey sense, he comes from a winning program and he’s going to fit in with our core.”
The Islanders made Reinhart their highest-drafted defenseman since Wade Redden was selected second overall in 1995. In 2009, the Islanders drafted Calvin de Haan 12th overall after taking John Tavares with the top pick that same year.
Paul Reinhart, Griffin’s father, played 11 seasons in the NHL with the Flames and Canucks organizations. Another first-round pick, Paul was taken 12th overall by the Atlanta Flames in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. He finished his career with 560 points in 648 games on the blue line and appeared in two All-Star Games.
The younger Reinhart will add to the young core the Islanders have built over the past few years and he is very excited to play with some of the other young players that have recently made the jump to the NHL.
“There’s a lot of them,” he said. “John Tavares, I saw when he was drafted first overall. So that’s probably the biggest pop-out name. I saw some of the other players playing in the WHL who were drafted out there, too.”
The Isles drafted two players from the Western Hockey League in the 2011 NHL Draft. Both John Persson of the Red Deer Rebels and Brenden Kichton of the Spokane Chiefs were taken in the fifth round.
Moments after Reinhart made his way into the bowels of CONSOL Energy Center, he received a couple of phone calls from current Islanders players. Tavares, the Islanders leading scorer last season, and fellow WHL alum Travis Hamonic each called to welcome Reinhart to the team.
“It’s really cool that they’re already welcoming me and I was a bit star struck when [Tavares] actually called me,” Reinhart said.
Reinhart will visit Long Island for the first time next week when he takes part in the Islanders prospect camp. It will be his first opportunity to prove to the Islanders fans exactly why they should be so excited for his future on Long Island.