“My grandmother was a big Leafs’ fan. She never missed a game and I basically grew up with the Leafs”, states OHL defenseman, Peter Reynolds. “Being drafted by the Leafs was just a dream come true”, he adds. The Leafs made the young defenseman their 2nd round selection, 60th overall, in the 1999 NHL entry draft.
“He views himself as a Sandis Ozolinsh-type player, but getting accustomed to the greater speed of the game is the type of thing he is making adjustments”, states North Bay coach and general manager, Mike Kelly. “He is very typical of the 1990′s type defenseman. He moves the puck well, can jump into the play, yet he is pretty responsible and physical in his own end”.
“I view myself as more of an offensive defenseman”, states Reynolds, “but I know I must make the smart decsions on the ice as to when to jump into the play or just make the safe pass out of the zone”.
Peter played his first two years with the London Knights and coach Gary Agnew was impressed with his progress. “He was a good, 2-way defenseman with us and reminded me of a young, Darryl Sydor, at a similar stage of development”, said Agnew. Reynolds did not score a goal, but had 8 assists in 55 games in 97-98. He did not register a point that year in 16 playoff games. He scored 2 goals and 25 assists for 27 pts. in 59 games in 98-99, then added 2 goals and 3 assists in 23 playoff games.
Peter was not happy with his role with London as his special-teams involvement was somewhat limited. He requested a trade in mid-August, 1999 from London to a team where he could get more ice-time and increase his role. London complied by trading him to North Bay along with a 4th round selection in the 2001 OHL draft in exchange for center, Brett Gibson and defenseman, Brett Angel. It was a move which allowed Peter to obtain what he desired: more icetime.
“Reynolds certainly is a focused young man, who relishes being on the ice during the critical times. He works hard on his skills and then transfers that improvement to the ice during game situations”, states Kelly. “He will certainly play more of a leadership role as the season wears on”, he adds.
Following the draft, former Leafs’ prospects coach, Chris MacDonald was impressed with his work ethic as well. “He went out of his way to approach the coaching staff to learn what he could do to improve his game. That was impressive”, stated MacDonald. “He really has good 2-way skills”, he adds.
Peter has not been a big-time scorer at this point in his junior career, but he does have a nice, hard, low and accurate shot from the blueline. “We feel that he has some potential as a powerplay quarterback and he will get that opportunity with us this season”, states Kelly. “Eventually, he will turn those skills into more productivity”, he adds.
Reynolds was impressive during the Leafs’ rookie tournament in Kitchener in early September. A couple of plays illustrated his future potential. On a Leafs’ powerplay against the New York Rangers, Reynolds received a pass at the right point from defensive partner, Vaclav Zavoral. He wired a hard, low wrist-shot toward the net which was expertly deflected by teammate, Nikolai Antropov for a goal. The shot was directed by Reynolds perfectly, right where Antropov could get his stick on it for the re-direction.
Later in that same game, Zavoral pinched in from the point and New York took off on a 2-on-1 break. Reynolds read his defensive partner’s play in the offensive zone and was back in position. He made a good play to break-up the 2-on-1 and thwart a great Rangers’ scoring chance.
“He has no glaring weaknesses. He simply needs to further develop his adjustments to the speed of the game and make the proper reads. He certainly is a very solid NHL prospect and should someday be a pretty good blueliner in all 3 zones”, states Kelly.
“I feel that I need to improve my upper body strength and play along the boards”, states Reynolds. “I also need to improve my skills on the special teams as well.”, he adds. He is off to a decent start with North Bay during the 99-00 season. In his first 13 games, he has yet to register a goal, but has 8 assists. He is a -2 for a team which is off to a 4-8-3 start and has 13 minutes in penalties.
Where does Peter see himself in 5 years? “I definitely see myself wearing the sweater of the Toronto Maple Leafs !!!”, he enthusiastically answers. What other answer would you expect from the 18-yr. old from Waterloo, Ontario?