With the 25th pick of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks have selected Sam Rinzel from the Chaska High/Waterloo Blackhawks of the United States Hockey League (USHL)
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Tracker
About Sam Rinzel
Sam Rinzel is a big, right-handed defender who was steadily climbing the draft rankings heading into Thursday. He had a great season with Chaska High, putting up nine goals and 38 points in 27 games, then suited up for 21 games with the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL, where he scored another two goals and 10 points. Although his offence is his strongest area, he’s no slouch in the defensive end, using his size and sleek skating to cut off opponents and shut down developing plays.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Although most high school players don’t earn much first-round consideration, Rinzel is special in that he projects to be a top-four defender one day, especially with his right shot and excellent size. He’s demonstrated patience and great intelligence on the ice, and that’s no doubt going to improve as he develops.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“The key for Rinzel moving forward is his continued development especially on defense. He is a University of Minnesota commit but won’t start with the Gophers until 2023-24. The upcoming season will give him a chance to refine his game and perhaps get him some more USHL experience.
“This is where evaluating high school players can be a tricky business. The level of competition they play against isn’t the same as it is in other situations. Are they able to translate it as they continue on? In Rinzel’s case, the consensus is that he will be able to translate that moving forward.
“Besides Rinzel’s size and skating, he is a good puck mover. He can also disrupt plays by using his long reach and then turn defense to offense. He has the signs of being an effective two-way defenseman with his offense leading the charge. In that sense, Rinzel is a lot like Scott Morrow, who went in the second round in last season’s draft. Morrow currently plays for UMass.
“Rinzel’s play earned him a bump of seven spots from the midterm to the final Central Scouting rankings, a reflection of his strong play to close the season. Anyone who drafts him will have to wait a few years to get him, but his skillset and tools seem like that wait will be worth it.”
How This Affects the Blackhawks’ Plans
With their third pick in the first round, the Blackhawks are committing to a full rebuild, so they took a bit of a flyer on Rinzel. Even though he’s the most NHL-ready player coming out of high school this year, he still will need several seasons of development at the University of Minnesota, which he’s not scheduled to attend until 2023-24. He’s definitely a project, but with some incredible two-way upside, Chicago was comfortable making a riskier pick later in the draft.
An elementary teacher by day and an avid hockey fan, Dayton joined The Hockey Writers in 2019 and currently covers the Ottawa Senators, World Juniors, and NHL Entry Draft.