Griffin Reinhart, D – Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
"The first year is more about getting comfortable," Reinhart said. "But all through the playoffs and Memorial Cup this year I feel I really picked up my game and my intensity shot up, making me a better player."
Though Edmonton this year will be without key defender Mark Pysyk, who leaves for the pros, Reinhart believes last season provided some nice challenges and benchmarks.
"Just before Christmas we had a big homestand and won 11 in a row," he said. "Going into the holidays, some of the guys went off to the world juniors and we were able to step up, which gave us a lot of confidence."
Along with his size, Reinhart also has the hockey IQ inherited from his dad. His brothers play for Kootenay (older bro Max is a Calgary prospect, younger Sam is an elite talent draft eligible in 2014) and Griffin is the only blueliner in the bunch.
"I'm a two-way defender, able to shut down offensive guys on the other team," he said. "I'm a pretty simple player – not too flashy but I get the job done."
Reinhart wants to be more vocal this season and take on a bigger leadership role. With a WHL title and Memorial Cup experience already under his belt, he's in good shape to talk the talk. Drafted fourth overall by the New York Islanders in 2012.