PITTSBURGH — There's so many family ties within Round 1 of the NHL draft that it should be in Columbus.
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, whose franchise hails from the city where the Keatons of TV sitcom fame resided, is not likely to take one of the blue-chippers who is the son or sibling of a NHL player. (Some mock drafts have the Jackets drafting Filip Forsberg, who as you know is not related to former NHL star Peter Forsberg.) But the draft class of 2012 is exceptional for the number of players who have a big-league bloodline.
No doubt players might chafe a little at the easy association. Malcolm Subban, the Belleville Bulls goaltender and brother of Montreal Canadiens rearguard P.K. Subban, has seldom given an interview without being asked about his sibling. "I just want them to know," he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Thursday, "that we're two different people, and that I play a different position." If it's any consolation, the third brother, Jordan Subban, will likely get the same line of questioning next season, since he's a defenceman for the OHL Bulls, just like his brother.
Here is a quick primer ahead of tonight's first round on players of puck pedigree who are likely to hear their famous name called. Saskatoon Blades centre Lukas Sutter is also a first-round darkhorse.
Griffin Reinhart (son of 11-year NHLer Paul Reinhart, middle brother between Calgary Flames prospect Max and top 2014 draft prospect Sam, who play together for the WHL's Kootenay Ice) — The Edmonton Oil Kings star is probably among the three high-end defenceman out of the Western League. Paul Reinhart was a good fit for the offensive hockey of the 1980s, counting 560 points in his 648-game career. Griffin Reinhart is your basic total package, two-way defenceman; there's a good argument that he might have a higher ceiling in the NHL than Murray. Reinhart is 6-foot-3½ and 203 pounds and skates well enough to avoid it hampering him as a pro.
It's somewhat easy to distinguish between the Reinhart brothers. The husky defenceman is in the middle between the two wiry forwards. Max Reinhart is a wing while Sam plays centre.
"I don't think it's on the ice as much as off the ice, when we're doing video games and even working out. When you see he's doing a little more than you, you want to push and be ahead of him in the gym, just to have the bragging rights."
Cameron Gaunce, a defenceman who was in the AHL this season, played three Ontario League seasons with the Mississauga Majors. Brendan has developed rapidly with Belleville in the OHL, becoming a leader for Los Toros.
Stefan Matteau (son of 12-year NHLer Stéphane Matteau) — The power winger has a chip of the old block on each shoulder. Stefan Matteau is a power winger like his father. He was born in Chicago in February 1994, weeks before his father went to the New York Rangers in a deadline deal that made it possible for him to score a Game 7 double-overtime goal during the Blueshirts' Stanley Cup run.
Stefan is trying to beat his dad's draft slot. His father was the No. 25 pick in 1987 by the Calgary Flames, but that was the second round then. The pair will be reunited next season. Stefan has committed to hone his physical edge with the QMJHL's Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, where Stéphane Matteau is an assistant coach.
Henrik Samuelsson (son of 16-year NHLer Ulf Samuelsson) — The Edmonton Oil Kings centre — one of four sons of NHL alumni on the WHL champions — is a man in demand in Pittsburgh. The hulking centre made a late push up the draft charts after leaving the pro ranks in Sweden for the more age-appropriate Western League, where he was Edmonton's steadiest forward at the MasterCard Memorial Cup. Plus the draft is also in the only pre-Gary Bettman era NHL market where Ulf Samuelsson is not used as a vicious epithet. Henrik is a centre who plays with the same edge that made his father reviled in many NHL arenas, particularly Boston, where he might fill a need when they pick No. 24 overall. A Samuelsson in Bruins colours? Cue Lisa Simpson, "What's next, A's on Bart's report card?"
Malcolm Subban (brother of Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban) — At the Ontario Hockey League priority selection draft in 2009, the Belleville Bulls went out and got their goalie of the future when they took Tyson Teichmann in the first round. Then coach-GM George Burnett and his scouts, who were seeing P.K. off to the pros that spring, took an 11th-round flier on Malcolm Subban, a very raw but freakishly athletic goalie from the Toronto Marlboros midgets.
The rest is recent goaltending prospect history. Subban spent a year developing, then beat out Teichmann, who was good enough to start for the Canadian under-18 team, for the starting job. He posted a 2.50 average and .923 save percentage this season for a seventh-place team and led the OHL in both for much of the year.
The first two Subbans were both late-round finds. P.K. Subban, as a minor midget player, was a sixth-rounder in 2005 (and third-rounder in the NHL draft two years later). There were no doubts, though, when Jordan Subban emerged as a prospect for the 2011 OHL draft. The Bulls took him No. 5 overall, benefiting from having an inside track on the, yep, right-handed rushing defenceman.
Each player from a famous hockey family wants to distinguish himself, of course. The Subbans' path shows how the course can be marked out by the one who came before.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.