Center Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice in the Western Hockey League takes pride in the little things that culminate in success.
Possessing great leadership, work ethic and a hockey IQ that is simply off the charts, the 6-foot-0.75, 185-pound right-handed shot could be the highest-drafted Reinhart to lace on the skates.
That's saying a lot, considering he no doubt has quite the hockey pedigree. His two older brothers and father were drafted by NHL teams.
Max Reinhart, 21, was taken by the Calgary Flames in the third round (No. 63) of the 2010 NHL Draft. The only defenseman of the three Reinhart brothers, Griffin Reinhart, 19, was selected fourth overall by the New York Islanders in 2012. His father, Paul Reinhart, was chosen No. 12 by the Atlanta Flames in 1979.
"Over the years, all of us talked to my dad after every game," Reinhart told NHL.com. "He'd give us advice. Max and Griffin went through the same things I am going through, so being able to watch them has had a huge positive influence on my career; it's nice having both of them."
Reinhart, who is in his third full season with the Ice, finished fourth in the WHL in scoring with a career-high 105 points (36 goals, 69 assists) in 60 regular-season games. He has 101 goals, 254 points and plus-52 rating in 203 career regular-season games.
NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr acknowledged that Reinhart presents a "throwback" type of style on the ice reminiscent of Hall of Fame members Ron Francis and Adam Oates.
At the start of the season, the North Vancouver native was projected by many to be the top choice at the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27. While that still may happen, Reinhart was No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top draft-eligible skaters in North America, released in January.
"He's extremely responsible in any area of the ice and, as a result, has excellent on-ice positioning," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald said. "He's exceptional at anticipating and is a very good opportunist. He has the ability to make something out of nothing and can dish effortlessly to both sides. He really thinks the game well."
Reinhart was listed behind forwards Samuel Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs, Leon Draisaitl of the Prince Albert Raiders and defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts. Bennett and Draisaitl were rated No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on Central Scouting's midterm list.
Reinhart was asked if the January ranking served as any motivation down the stretch.
"It could," he said. "Either way, wherever you are, you try not to look at it too much. I don't focus on [rankings]; just play my game and get better every day. The draft is two days long, but the ultimate goal is to be in the NHL next year, so that's my focus. Whichever team happens to get me, I'll be thrilled to go there and make a good impression."
Reinhart has made a habit of making a good impression. In particular, scouts are gushing over his hockey sense and knack for being two moves ahead of the competition.
"At the end of the day, it's quick reaction time and thinking quickly what's on the ice that help you succeed," Reinhart said. "You can never plan what's actually going to happen, so I think it comes naturally. It's something nice to have."
Reinhart has four goals and nine points in a best-of-7 WHL Eastern Conference playoff series with the Calgary Hitmen that is tied 2-2 and resumes Thursday in Calgary.
He not only captained Canada's team that won the gold medal at the 2012 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka, but he also wore the "C" for Canada's World Under-18 National Team that took gold. At the U-18 World Championship in Sochi, Russia, Reinhart had three goals, seven points and a plus-7 rating skating on a line primarily with Morgan Klimchuk, a first-round pick of the Calgary Flames in 2013, and 2015 draft-eligible prodigy Connor McDavid.
Reinhart, who is in his first season as captain for Kootenay, takes the leadership role very seriously.
"The biggest thing on any level would be leading by example both on and off the ice," he said. "I may not talk a lot or be the loudest guy in the room, but certainly if something needs to be said, I think you should certainly step up and say something, at the right times."
Reinhart had one goal and one assist as captain of Team Cherry in a 4-3 loss against Team Orr at the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Calgary on Jan. 15. He was also a key member for fourth-place Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, when he had two goals, five points and a plus-3 rating in a top-six role for coach Brent Sutter.
"The biggest thing you can take out of [the WJC] was the experience," Reinhart said. "People can tell you about the high level of play, but until you go over there and experience it and find out what it's all about, you can't really take that into account."
Reinhart played on a line with captain Scott Laughton (Philadelphia Flyers) and Bo Horvat (Vancouver Canucks) at the WJC and generated eight shots on goal.
"The tournament is definitely not an easy one," he said. "There are so many game sevens. It's a tough tournament to win, so I think if you look around and see the group of guys that were on that team, you just have to make the best out of the situation. It's not the outcome we wanted, but I'll never forget it."
Some have compared Reinhart's style to that of New York Rangers forward Brad Richards and even Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg.
"His offensive hockey sense is off the chart with his vision and playmaking," Marr said. "He dishes the puck off with laser-like passes and is capable of defending himself while getting through traffic."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer
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