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Islanders prospect Griffin Reinhart on pressure from famous name, being top pick

Sean Leahy
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SYOSSET, N.Y. -- It's been a whirlwind past seven days for New York Islanders No. 1 pick Griffin Reinhart. After spending last weekend in Pittsburgh where the Islanders selected the 6-foot-3, 206 pound defenseman No. 4 overall, he immediately headed to Long Island for the team's prospect camp this week.

Has he had a chance to take a breath yet?

"A little bit," said Reinhart after the morning skate before the team's prospect scrimmage on Thursday night. "But I'm sure it'll sink in more once I go back to Vancouver and settle down and take a few days rest."

Reinhart was one of eight defensemen to go in the top 10 of the draft. Praised for his size, bloodlines -- his dad, Paul, played 11 seasons in the NHL -- and awareness at both ends of the ice, Reinhart was the first defenseman taken by the Islanders in the first round since Mark Katic in 2007 since Calvin de Haan in 2009. He joins older brother Max (Calgary, 2010) as the other drafted Reinhart sibling, while Sam, 16, has been burning up the WHL with Kootenay as he prepares for the 2014 draft.

Too young to watch his dad play in person, the younger Reinhart noticed a similar playing style to that of his father while watching old footage of him on television. The only big difference Reinhart said between he and his dad is size: 5-foot-11 vs. 6-foot-3.

While he'll work to improve his quickness, agility and strength in junior next season, Reinhart is seen as a couple years away from cracking a roster spot on the NHL level. He hasn't inquired for advice from his dad because what his future holds will boil down on his own play.

"He knows that there's nothing you can say that's going to make the transition go any faster," said Reinhart. "It's what I do and that's what I'm focusing on."

This past season with the Oil Kings, Reinhart scored 12 goals and 36 points in 58 games as Edmonton won the WHL title and qualified for the Memorial Cup. From there he went to the NHL Combine a week later where teams were telling him to not even participate because of the length of his season.

Reinhart enters an organization chock full of potential and eager to finish out of last place in the Atlantic Division for the first time in six seasons. The Islanders have picked in the top 10 in each of the past five drafts and despite the expectations placed upon him to succeed when he does eventually reach the NHL, Reinhart isn't letting that affect him.

"I think I really want to get there more than the pressure of being a high pick," said Reinhart. "I don't really let that get to me. I think I've done a pretty good job over my whole life so far. I'm used to the pressure with my dad being an ex-NHL player. I think I handle it pretty well."

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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