Waterloo Black Hawks defenseman Sam Rinzel was a highly-regarded draft prospect throughout the 2021/22 season, and Thursday the Chicago Blackhawks made him a first round selection during the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal.
Rinzel was chosen in the 25th overall slot, making him the earliest Black Hawk selected since Brock Boeser was drafted 23rd in 2015. He is the fourth Waterloo player to ever be picked in the first round.
The 6-foot, 4-inch Chanhassen, Minnesota, native split time between the Black Hawks and Chaska High School last winter. During United States Hockey League competition, he scored a pair of goals and added eight assists in 21 regular season games. The University of Minnesota recruit produced two points (one goal, one assist) during his USHL debut against the Tri-City Storm on November 12th. He also had a multipoint performance with a pair of assists against the Lincoln Stars on March 27th. Additionally, Rinzel was in the lineup for all six Waterloo postseason games this spring.
Facing Minnesota High School competition in 2021/22, the junior averaged more than a point-per-game, with nine goals and 29 assists during 27 contests. Rinzel ended that schedule on a five-game point streak, generating three goals and seven assists during the run. He also served as captain for the Chaska Hawks.
Last October, NHL Central Scouting had graded Rinzel as a “B” prospect on their initial “Players to Watch” list. He was slotted 26th in the service’s January Midseason Ranking of North American skaters, then moved up to 19th in May’s end-of-season report. Scouts also had a unique look at the big defenseman when he appeared during the 2022 BioSteel All American Game at USA Hockey Arena on January 17th. The showcase event features some of the league’s most high-profile draft prospects.
During recent NHL Drafts, Chicago has selected Waterloo players with regularity. Jan-Mikael Juutilainen, Vinnie Hinostroza, Jake Ryczek, Blake Hillman, and Rinzel have all been picked since 2006. Hinostroza and Hillman each went on to make their NHL debuts with Chicago, in 2015 and 2018 respectively.
Waterloo anticipates Rinzel being on the blue line at Young Arena when the 2022/23 hockey season begins this fall. The Hawks will open the schedule against the Youngstown Phantoms on September 24th, before eventually coming home for the first time Saturday, October 8th against the Tri-City Storm.