Was the big reveal for our No. 1 prospect dramatic? Heck no. While the competition for 3, 4 and 5 came down to single votes, Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice steamrolled everybody, our unanimous No. 1 prospect with his name showing up first on every ballot.
So what do we know Central Scouting doesn’t? Not a whole lot, but I think it comes down to what we value in a hockey player.
SAM REINHART – Kootenay (WHL)
Weight: 185 lbs
Birthdate: November 6 1995
Suffice to say, the third of the Reinhart brothers is a top-tier prospect, a player who could be on an NHL first line within two years, and the most complete player in the draft. From the junior hockey know-it-alls like Rhys to the numberhounds like Josh, there isn’t much to dislike here.
Even his age—we’ll note—he’s a 1995-born player, so he’s on the older end of the draft class, but one year ago he would have been picked along with some of the best 1994-borns. With 85 points in 72 games, Reinhart was tied for 15th in the WHL in scoring… a year before he was even draft-eligible! This season he was one of five players to crack the 100-point barrier. There was Mitch Holmberg, an overager with Spokane, two Portland Winterhawks, and Leon Draisaitl.
Rhys has already pointed to all the good things we can say about Reinhart before. Strictly speaking, his 17-year-old points-per-game rate is among the elite CHL seasons we’ve seen in recent years:
In his draft year, he outscored Steve Stamkos, Nathan MacKinnon, Tyler Seguin, Claude Giroux, and Matt Duchene, and shattered the WHL’s high water mark for scoring rate, held by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Other than Sam Gagner (who rode Patrick Kane’s coattails with the London Knights), basically everyone in Reinhart’s range is a legitimate star player in the NHL and a worthy 1st overall pick. It’s not unreasonable to say that Reinhart may be one of the most talented players to come out of the WHL in over a decade.
Which is why it’s a little weird he’s listed as low as fourth in some lists, including Corey Pronman’s. The decision for the ranking seemed to be mostly due to age, as Willy Nylander and Sam Bennett are both a few months younger:
Reinhart’s probably a better player right now, but Nylander is in his 17-year-old season (as compared to Reinhart being in his 18-year-old season) and Nylander seems to have more room to grow. For the latter reason, being that I think he has so much upside, and it’s easier to close the gap defensively than offensively for an under-20 player, I give the edge to Nylander.
It’s a legitimate concern, but not enough to hide the fact that Reinhart was dominating the WHL before most people knew there was a junior hockey team in Cranbrook. Harrison at Pass It To Bulis made an excellent point that the Canucks could basically only afford to move up spots for Reinhart and Reinhart alone, even if it should cost them Hunter Shinkaruk. Reinhart’s a local-born prospect the fans can easily rally behind, an easy player for the PR team to sell, and the best player in the draft right now, meaning he could probably go right away to the NHL and replace Ryan Kesler.
But I doubt it gets to that point. There’s usually more noise than action when it comes to dealing the first overall pick, and the Canucks are sitting pretty at six (and I’d be pretty happy with anybody in our Top 9, so long as Jim Benning doesn’t decide to #BruinsModel the thing and make a reach on Jake Virtanen or Nick Ritchie [who was actually 19th in our rankings, and I didn’t think that would be an issue until commenters started thinking we had him up in our Top 5]) and the cost for moving up might be pretty large and from a hockey ops perspective, not worth Shinkaruk and a roster player.
It’s fun to dream though. Reinhart slides into almost any NHL depth chart, and besides: drafting Reinhart means that perhaps, just perhaps, the scouts also take a chance on his linemate for the last two seasons: the undersized and underrated Jaedon Descheneau…