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2022 NHL Draft primer

By Loren Nelson, 07/07/22, 6:30AM CDT


Chaska defenseman Sam Rinzel tops list of Minnesota high school prospects

Chaska defenseman Sam Rinzel, left, could be selected as high as in the first round in the 2022 NHL Draft. Photo by Loren Nelson,

Sam Rinzel doesn’t go end-to-end in a single stride, fire slapshots through brick walls or possess more power than a high-revving Zamboni.

Alas, the Chaska defenseman is a mere mortal. Albeit one with a hockey skill set that has caught the attention of NHL scouts and mock drafters alike.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Rinzel, a smooth-skating, puck-rushing defenseman who scored 10 goals among his 38 points for the Hawks in 2021-22 as a junior, figures to be the first player from last season’s Minnesota high school ranks selected in the NHL Draft that begins at 6 p.m. today in Montreal.

Rinzel, coming off an outstanding high school season, ascended to No. 19 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings and is projected by several media outlets to be picked late in the first round. The Athletic, Bleacher Report and all have Rinzel going to the Arizona Coyotes. TSN’s mock draft has the St. Louis Blues picking Rinzel at No. 23.

Minnesota high school defensemen have been popular early picks in recent NHL drafts. Last year, Jack Peart of Grand Rapids was selected in the second round, 54th overall, by the Minnesota Wild. Edina’s Jake Boltmann went in the third round, 80th overall, to the Calgary Flames in 2020. One pick later Andover’s Wyatt Kaiser was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Joining Rinzel as other Minnesota high school players from last season expected to be selected in the two-day draft include: 

  • Alex Bump, the Prior Lake star who scored five goals in a single state Class 2A tournament game this spring.
  • Zam Plante, the relentless Hermantown forward who helped lead the Hawks to the state Class 1A championship in March.
  • Tristan Sarsland, the puck-rushing Benilde-St. Margaret’s defenseman who scored 29 points last season.
  • Daimon Gardner, the Warroad forward who tied Bump for fourth in the state last season with 83 points.
  • Leo Gruba, the Hill-Murray defenseman with a booming shot and aggressive streak that sometimes had him leading the Pioneers’ forecheck.
  • Dylan Godbout, the Hill-Murray forward who scored 30 goals, 18 more than the next-highest total among the Pioneers (Gruba was tied for second with 12).

All of the projected NHL picks were selected to Legacy Hockey’s 2021-22 All-State team. Bump was named Player of the Year.

Rinzel, who has committed to play for Minnesota, starred for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL this spring after leading Chaska to a section title game appearance during the high school season. He scored two goals and added eight assists in 21 games in Waterloo. Rinzel also spent plenty of time in front of NHL scouts last fall when he played in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League.

Should Rinzel be selected in tonight's opening round he would join Minnesota natives such as Minnetonka’s Jake Gardiner (No. 17 overall by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2008) and Eden Prairie’s Nick Leddy (No. 16 overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2009) who went early in recent drafts while still playing for or having just completed their careers for their high school teams. 

Former South St. Paul standout Phil Housley is the standard bearer for Minnesota high school defenseman being selected early in the draft. He was picked No. 6 by the Buffalo Sabres in 1982 and made the jump straight from high school to the pros.

The 2022 NHL Draft, which is being held at Bell Centre in Montreal, begins at 6 p.m. today with Round 1. Rounds 2-7 will start at 10 a.m. Friday. Round 1 will be broadcast on ESPN and Friday’s rounds will be on the NHL Network. The Montreal Canadiens have the first pick in the draft.

Projected 2022 NHL Draft Picks: Minnesota High School Players

Name High School Pos. Height Weight Projected Round
Sam Rinzel Chaska D 6-4 180 Early (Late 1st-Early 2nd)
Alex Bump Prior Lake F 6-0 195 Mid (Third, Fourth, Fifth)
Leo Gruba Hill-Murray D 6-1 202 Mid (Third, Fourth, Fifth)
Tristan Sarsland Benilde-St. Margaret's D 6-0 182 Mid (Third, Fourth, Fifth)
Daimon Gardner Warroad F 6-4 200 Mid (Third, Fourth, Fifth)
Barrett Hall Gentry Academy F 6-0 170 Mid (Third, Fourth, Fifth)
Zam Plante Hermantown F 5-10 165 Late (Sixth, Seventh)
Dylan Godbout Hill-Murray F 5-10 183 Late (Sixth, Seventh)

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