2021-22 Team: Chaska High/Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
Date of Birth: June 25, 2004
Place of Birth: Chanhassen, MN, USA
Ht: 6-foot-4 Wt: 181 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 19th (amongst North American Skaters)
- Recruit Scouting: 74th
- Peter Baracchini’s May Rankings: 51st
- Andrew Forbes’ March Rankings: 64th
- Matthew Zator’s April Rankings: 47th
- Smaht Scouting: 47th
- Bob McKenzie’s Rankings: 47th
Certain things in the NHL Draft appear every year like clockwork. There are players who rise rapidly after a slow start. There are those who fall dramatically after a great start due to injury or performance. Then there’s the one player in high school who stands out above the rest and asserts themselves as we get closer to the draft. It seems that player in 2022 is Chaska High’s Sam Rinzel.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
On the surface, it’s easy to see why. Rinzel just completed his junior season at Chaska and was able to get some games in with his USHL team Waterloo. He already stands 6-foot-4 and still has plenty of room to fill out. He doesn’t turn 18 until June making him one of the youngest players available in this draft.
Rinzel is not the only player available in this draft that attended Chaska High. Jimmy Snuggerud played at Chaska before joining the U.S National Development Program. Snuggerud and Rinzel were teammates in 2019-20 when Rinzel was a freshman.
So why does Rinzel have the attention of NHL scouts and teams? He is the most NHL ready player coming out of high school. He couples his big frame with above average skating. Despite being a defenseman, he is known for jumping into the rush and playing a creative offensive game. With so much room for development given his age, he has separated himself in the eyes of scouts from his peers and should be the first name called from high school.
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.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Sam Rinzel — NHL Draft Projection
Most in the industry see Rinzel going somewhere later in the second round or into the third round with some even pegging him as a potential first-round talent. Those that believe he could go earlier believe his game is well rounded enough that it will eventually make an impact as a potential top-four defenseman.
“Rinzel is a two-way defenseman with a big frame and skating ability to impact the game on both ends of the ice. While he showed flashes of offensive skill, I thought he still played a overall solid game on defense. His size plays a big part in his strong defensive game but so was the way he used his stick as he was angling off attackers and deflecting incoming passes.” –Douglas Larson, Future Considerations
“At 6-foot-4, he possesses the size and right-shot handedness that every NHL team strives to add when designing an optimal roster composition.” –Daniel Gee, EPRinkside
“Rinzel is patient with the puck on his stick, drawing in opponents and then making a move right as the lane opens up. Rinzel is a skilled passer who can make a smart breakout pass or find a teammate on the backdoor from the blueline. He is agile enough on his feet to escape pressure and create space for himself. High schoolers are always a difficult projection but Rinzel is gaining praise from analysts and scouts with each game he plays. If he finds his way into more USHL action, he could solidify himself as the top U.S. high school player in the class. ” –Tony Ferrari, The Hockey News
- Skilled passer/playmaker
- Above average skater
- Long reach
Under Construction — Improvements to Make
- Defensive consistency
- Needs to play more high-end competition
Rinzel’s size and skating certainly improves his NHL potential. His upside is that of a top-four defenseman who can contribute on special teams. He can reach his potential by continuing to improve his defensive game while filling out his 6-foot-4 frame.
Risk — 3.5/5, Reward — 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense — 8/10, Defense — 7/10
Rinzel was drafted 18th overall by the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL. Youth Hockey Hub considered Rinzel a finalist for High School Boys Player of the Year. Rinzel also played in both the Hlinka-Gretzky Tournament and the Biosteel All-American Prospects Game.