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By Jesse Watts – whl.ca

Calgary, AB – Leading up to the 2012 NHL Draft at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh on June 22 and 23, WHL.ca and WHL Web TV, will highlight six WHL players who are highly ranked by NHL Central Scouting leading up to draft day. This week’s featured WHL player is Edmonton Oil Kings’ dependable defencemen Griffin Reinhart.

Griffin Reinhart just completed his second season in the WHL with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The North Vancouver, B.C. product netted 12 goals and 36 points with a +23 rating in 58 regular-season games to help the Oil Kings claim first place in the overall WHL standings, then added two goals and eight points with a +14 rating in 20 post-season games to lead the team to the WHL championship and an appearance in the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup tournament.

Reinhart is a smart, dependable and intimidating presence in the defensive zone, and also boasts strong puck-moving skills and a big shot from the point. A good skater with great mobility for his size, Reinhart possesses good hockey sense and strong instincts in the defensive zone, and can make an impact in the offensive zone as well with his passing skills and heavy shot. One of three Reinhart brothers playing in the WHL, Griffin boasts many similarities to Nashville Predators’ star and former Kelowna Rocket Shea Weber.

“He’s a big defenseman who can play the game in any situation,” said Edmonton Oil Kings’ general manager Bob Green, who selected Reinhart in the first round of the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft.

“He can log a lot of minutes and thrives on lots of playing time, he moves the puck very well, defends very well and rarely gets caught out of position, and has good offensive tools,” said Green. “Obviously, his size and physical make-up are what stand out about him, but he brings a lot more to the game, too.”

Reinhart played for Canada’s Under-18 team at the 2011 Memorial for Ivan Hlinka tournament, winning a Gold medal, and also played for Team Pacific in the 2011 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.

Reinhart also played for Team WHL in the 2011 SUBWAY Super Series, and played in the 2012 Home Hardware CHL / NHL Top Prospects game. He also played for Team B.C. in the inaugural WHL Western Canada Under-16 Challenge Cup.

Did you know…Reinhart’s father, Paul, was a first-round NHL draft pick in 1979, chosen 12th overall by the Atlanta Flames. A possible Top-10 pick in the 2012 NHL draft, Griffin has the potential to better his father’s draft spot.