Since joining the Saskatoon Blades midway through the 2019-20 campaign, Rhett Rhinehart has developed into a key pillar on the team’s blue-line.
His size, standing a whopping 6-foot-4 on a 223-pound frame, combined with his smooth skating stride and cannon slapshot is recognized across the WHL. That’s not to mention his nickname, which immediately causes other Western League teams to take notice.
As “Rhino” prepares for his final season in the WHL, let’s dive a little deeper into the numbers which stand out most in his career (there are a lot), and gauge whether the blue-liner will hear his name called in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
1 – The round Rhinehart was selected in during the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
It’s funny how the hockey world works sometimes. The Prince Albert Raiders took Rhinehart with confidence in 2016, calling his name 13th overall. Two years later, the Raiders sent the Lloydminster, AB product to the Prince George Cougars, who later shipped Rhinehart back to Saskatchewan at the trade deadline in 2020 — becoming a Saskatoon Blade.
2 – The number of game-winning goals Rhinehart scored in the 2020-21 season.
Rhinehart led Blades defencemen with two game-winners — his first coming on April 15th vs. the Regina Pats, and the second finding the twine in overtime against the Moose Jaw Warriors on April 26th.
3 – The number of goals Rhinehart scored on April 15th vs. the Regina Pats.
There may not have been a single hat tumble onto the ice, but Rhinehart’s first career hat-trick was one to remember. Playing in the confines of Regina’s Hub Centre, Rhinehart netted Saskatoon’s first three markers, including the game-winner, to push the Blades win-streak to five games with a 4-1 win over Regina.
Coincidentally, his hatty came on his father’s birthday and according to Rhinehart’s post-game interview, his dad told him to “score a hat-trick for my birthday.”
5 – The number of goals Rhinehart scored & longest point-streak in the 2020-21 season.
Rhinehart’s reputation as a run-and-gun defender who isn’t afraid to throw the body is matched only by his knack of putting the puck in the net. Although he focuses primarily on keeping the puck out of his own net (and does a great job), he isn’t afraid to let his rocket slapshot release from the point. Rhinehart led the team in defensive scoring with five goals, and also held a season-high five-game point-streak running from April 11-20th.
6 – The position he finished in East Division defensive scoring.
Not only did Rhinehart finish 1st in team scoring as a defenseman, but his 16 points also catapulted him into 6th among all East Division blue-liners.
14 – Rhinehart’s +/- rating in the 2020-21 season.
A key area Rhinehart focused on through the prolonged off-season in 2020 was locking down more defensively and keeping the puck out of his own end. His hard work paid off greatly, improving his +/- rating from a -13 in 2019-20 to team-leading +14 in the shortened 2020-21 campaign. This was the 3rd best +/- of all defencemen in the East Division.
22 – The number of penalty minutes Rhinehart chalked up in 2020-21.
You don’t get the nickname “Rhino” without throwing your weight around. Rhinehart certainly wasn’t afraid to lay the body and hone in on an intimidating, aggressive style of play. His 22 penalty minutes in 21 games was fourth-highest on the team. But this enforcer role isn’t anything new for Rhinehart — he’s piled up 192 penalty minutes over his four-year career.
151 – The North American skating ranking given to Rhinehart by NHL Central Scouting heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Rhinehart has gained noticeable traction among NHL brass in previous years. His age and birth year hinders his placement on this year’s charts, going unranked, but his playing style and strong defensive awareness could result in him hearing his name called this time around.
This year’s NHL Entry Draft will be held virtually in a remote format, with the 1st round taking place July 23rd, followed by rounds 2-7 on July 24th.