Sep 19, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; New York Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin (60) and defenseman Griffin Reinhart (8) defend the goal against New Jersey Devils right wing Stephen Gionta (11) during the first period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

New York Islanders happy with Griffin Reinhart’s progress

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The New York Islanders made a tough decision last fall when they sent down defensive prospect Griffin Reinhart. They’d drafted Reinhart fifth overall because of his pro-ready frame and smarts. However, Isles management decided he needed another year in the junior hockey ranks. After Reinhart’s junior team won the Memorial Cup this past summer, it appears neither party has any regrets.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said that the experience Reinhart gained in the Edmonton Oil Kings’ Memorial Cup run was a great boon to the young player’s career, per NHL.com.

“He played a lot of minutes,” Capuano said. “He was a horse for those guys and gained a great deal of experience, and most importantly winning a championship and how hard it is and how tough it is. The fact that he was able to do that, we’re proud of him, and now he’s going to get an opportunity come September.”

Reinhart agreed with his future coach’s assessment, saying he gained crucial development. “I think my skating’s been improving a lot,” Reinhart said. “I think my decision-making’s getting even better and quicker. I always thought I had good decision-making, but being up here you need to make it quicker, and I think I’ve done a good job of that.”

Griffin Reinhart will have every chance to make the New York Islanders in training camp, with only Lubomir Visnovsky and Travis Hamonic as reliable veterans on the current roster. There is plenty of younger competition though in Calvin de Haan, Brian Strait and Thomas Hickey. The Islanders could also add a blue liner or two between now and training camp.

For now at least, it appears that Reinhart has the inside track on a job in NHL or AHL. If he makes the team this year, he’ll surely look to last year as a cornerstone for the next step in his career.

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Tags: New York Islanders