Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
As training camp inches its way towards us hungry hockey fans, both fans and writers alike are speculating about who will survive the roster cuts and play for the Islanders. There are several players in search of the Islanders last spot on defense; a now vacant spot on the team’s third pair.
While reading another article , I read that of all defenseman fighting for that vacancy, Griffin Reinhart could be the probable winner. It’s definitely an interesting thought. Reinhart is a highly touted prospect for the Islanders and is perhaps the best defensive prospect in the Islanders’ talented farm system. In all likelihood he will have a permanent spot on the team in the next few seasons. However, it will be a dog fight this season, so let’s dive into mounds of speculation and decide; will Griffin Reinhart make this Islanders team in 2013?
First and foremost, it’s important to understand what could be expected of Reinhart; a top pairing offensive defenseman. Griffin brings with him a wicked slap shot from the point that can inflict serious damage on the opposing team and also has great vision of the ice. He is a solid playmaker and will be a large contributor to the Islanders’ power play.
In addition to his skilled offensive game, Reinhart is also supposed to be a shutdown defenseman. Scouts say that he has a knack for keeping the play to the outside, forcing opposing forwards to take low-percentage shots. That is always something warmly welcomed by a team, especially a team searching for stronger defense. Being 6’4″, he is also expected to bring a physical element to his game (if you want to see just what I think he brings to the table, click here). Griffin likes to get physical with players. He badgers them with his contact, and sometimes roughs them up in fights. With such a tremendous all around game, Reinhart is one of the top prospects in the Islanders’ system and should see NHL time sooner than later.
Reinhart has had strong seasons thus far in the Western Hockey League with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Last season, he lit the lamp 8 times while tallying 21 assists in 59 games played. Reinhart also put up 3 goals and 4 assists in 12 playoff games. Being a defenseman, those are impressive numbers. Yes, they could be a bit better, but averaging about a point every other game from the blueline is still eyebrow raising. Not to mention, with all the points Reinhart racked up, he still managed to support his trademark physical style.
Reinhart has proven to many that he could take the job in training camp. However, he wouldn’t be able to play to his full potential. To make an analogy, he could pass the NHL Entry Test at this point, but barely. He still has imperfections in his game that would be exploited and used against him in the big leagues by the most skilled forwards in the world. He still hasn’t played a professional season, so sending him back to juniors seems like the best fit. In my opinion, he needs to perfect his game before arriving even in Bridgeport to begin his ascension to the NHL.
If you’re wondering when I think Reinhart will crack a roster spot, it’s a solid bet to say that he will make the team after this season if he has a strong year in juniors and continues to play his game. Let me know what you guys think about this in the comments or on twitter and by voting in my poll below.