|TEAM||Chaska HS/Waterloo (USHL)|
At 6’4 and 190-pounds, Sam Rinzel is the prototypical defenseman that franchises covet. The fact that he’s an excellent skater with good puck skills makes Rinzel a top prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft. Rinzel has the size that historically has translated well to NHL level play, even with smaller defensemen making their mark in recent years, smooth skating big men are the gold standard for defensemen prospects.
Rinzel’s skating and agility are the attributes that allow him to be such an effective defenseman. When perusing the puck carrier, Rinzel applies nice pressure using his footwork to track and cover the opposition. Rinzel is able to open up his hips and stay square while maintaining speed and efficiency in his pursuit. Rinzel makes the most of his size as he uses his long reach to interfere with passing lanes and disrupt puck movement on an opponent’s rush.
His physical game should continue to progress as he builds into his lanky frame. Rinzel has demonstrated on multiple occasions that he can eliminate a threat by delivering a body check. He has good timing on his body contact and picks opportune times to deliver a check. Rinzel’s defensive slot work is where added strength and experience will help him clear opponents and win the battles for garbage pucks. The overall defensive side of his game is outstanding as Rinzel shows great defensive instincts and a high compete level.
When breaking the puck out of the zone Rinzel can make effortless transitions and instant cuts to buy him space and time when protecting the puck. Often it appears that he is playing keep-a-way, using his body and edges to turn and swivel away from opponents. Rinzel usually shows a preference to skate the puck up ice to gain zones and then distribute the puck to a teammate.
Rinzel has a nice snapshot that really has some zip, it’s very crisp. He has the ability to label the corners and has demonstrated that he can do it from 50 feet. While he has the tools to pick corners Rinzel will often fire his shots center-mass on the goalie, this is why Rinzel has a poor shooting percentage in the USHL. While this looks bad on paper the advantage is he’s not missing the net and giving up puck possession and it also allows for tips and rebounds. The ability is already there for improvement in this aspect, it just needs to be applied to in games.
For those that look at his USHL numbers and feel Rinzel is not producing, you could not be more wrong, as he’s been outstanding defensively and is great at gaining zones. He had a six-game span in April where he was not on the ice for a goal against (non-empty net goals). Six games without surrendering a goal, that is shutdown defense!
KEY ATTRIBUTES: Skating, Mobility, Puck Protection, Receiving a pass, Transitions, Edge work, Anticipation, Defensive Reliability, Confidence, Gap control, Conditioning, Discipline