There is no clear-cut No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NHL draft class, but the best prospect according to the International Scouting Services’ top 30 players is Kootenay center Sam Reinhart, per TSN.ca.
Reinhart was ranked in the top three for most of the season—he trailed Barrie defender Aaron Ekblad and Kingston forward Sam Bennett—but an outstanding close to the regular season and a stellar performance in the postseason has opened eyes.
In 12 playoff games this season, he racked up an incredible six goals, 17 assists and 23 points to prove he can thrive under pressure. For teams uncertain about his ability to translate his talent to the next level, Reinhart’s success in key moments has been a reassuring achievement.
As seen in the table below, Reinhart’s success wasn’t just limited to the postseason:
|Sam Reinhart's Regular Season Stats|
As if his stats weren’t enough to draw serious consideration as the No. 1 overall pick, former NHL player (and Sam’s father) Paul Reinhart told Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com about his youngest son’s ability to be a game changer:
He sees the game extremely well and he's a very cerebral player. All three are [cerebral]. I think I was a very good player but marvel when I have an opportunity to watch Sam play. I marvel at some of the small things he does with the puck and away from the puck and his ability to understand the game.
With a long lineage in the sport, the NHL’s public relations department shared a video talking about Reinhart’s family history in the league, including his father and two brothers:
Every team in the NHL is looking for elite centers to add depth and talent to their offense, and Reinhart has the raw ability to evolve into a top-line starter.
At 6’1” and 185 pounds, he is already an ideal size. Add in the ability to add even more muscle to his frame, and Reinhart will be an aggressive player who only continues to grow physically and mentally with each passing day.
Not only will his leadership abilities translate to NHL locker rooms—his demeanor commands respect from younger and older players alike—but he also has the composure and hockey IQ to assess the play on the ice and slow it down as it is happening in order to make the smartest decision.
Teams are always looking for stars who can coach on the ice and find the correct plays to make without being told, and Reinhart has showcased during his time in the WHL that he possess extreme maturity despite his immense success.
Add in his innate ability to control the puck in every zone, the vision to find the open passing lanes, one of the deadliest shots in the 2014 draft class and his modest approach to the sport, and there is no question that Reinhart deserves the No. 1 overall selection.
Tuesday’s lottery will determine which team picks first in the NHL draft, and Reinhart will be waiting to see which organization he is most likely to land with in June.
Regardless of where he lands, there is little doubt that Reinhart will be a star at the next level.
*All stats and information via NHL.com.