2022 NHL Draft: Blackhawks select Sam Rinzel with No. 25 pick

After landing another first-round pick, the Blackhawks added another blue-liner.

After trading the No. 38 pick to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Petr Mrazek and the No. 25 pick, the Blackhawks used the latter to select defensemen and Minnesota high-schooler Sam Rinzel.

For those keeping count at home, this was the Blackhawks third first-round selection of the 2022 NHL Draft, which happened for the first time in franchise history.

Sam Rinzel is a right-handed defenseman who split his time between Chaska High School in Minnesota, the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL, and the Team SIT Financial Services of the Upper Midwest HS Elite League last season. Yes, that latter one is a real thing. He amassed 64 points (15 G, 49 A) in 63 games between all three leagues and has risen up draft boards as he’s progressed throughout the year.

Hockey Wilderness described him as a “toolsy defensive prospect”, which seems very apt: at 6-foot-4 with above-average skating, Rinzel has good size and mobility that many scouts see as s strong foundation upon which an NHL-quality defender can be built. Eyes on the Prize went further to call Rinzel a “dark horse” of the draft, citing the fact that his small sample size is downplaying the strength of his toolset as a player. There are some key issues in his game — he’s prone to puck watching when defending, his backward momentum isn’t great, and he’s physically immature — but those are areas that can be improved with the right development.

Rinzel is a project, but he’ll get plenty of opportunity grow as a player: he’ll spend another season in the USHL and then transfer to the University of Minnesota, where he is committed to play for the ‘23-24 season.