For fans of the Buffalo Sabres the upcoming NHL draft can’t come quick enough and luckily for them it’s coming soon. Today, Central Scouting released their final draft rankings ahead of the NHL draft in June and Sam Bennett from the OHL came out on top.
While many believe the battle for the first overall pick will be between forward Sam Reinhart and defenceman Aaron
Ekblad, the CSS has a different opinion on who should go first. In their mid season rankings Sam Bennet ranked first and in their final rankings the Kingston Frontenacs forward remained in the top spot.
Bennett had quite the season in the OHL with the Frontenacs even earning the praise of playing like Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour. He finished first in coaching votes for; Smartest player, best playmaker and best stick-handler. In addition he had a career year on the scoreboard racking up 36 goals and 55 assists for 91 points.
In the second slot of the CSS rankings is defenceman Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts. Ekblad also had a career year in his third season of OHL play racking up 23 goals and 53 points. He was voted first in coaches poll for best shot, hardest shot, best offensive defenseman and best defensive defenseman.
In the third slot, one up from the mid season rankings is Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice. Reinhart and Ekblad are considered by most, aside from the CSS, to be in a battle for the first overall pick. Reinhart isn’t as flashy as Bennett, but he has great hockey sense and is a solid two-way centre. Reinhart had a solid year in the WHL racking up 36 goals and 105 points in 60 regular-season game. He will be the third Reinhart drafted and is set to follow in the footsteps of his father.
In the fourth slot, falling down to slots from midseason rankings is Leon Draisaitl also hailing from the WHL. Draisaitl plays for the Prince Albert Raiders and racked up the same amount of points as Reinhart. He racked up 38 goals, 67 assists for 105 points in 64 regular-season games, good enough for a 4th place tie in WHL scoring. Draisaitl had poor showings in the WHL playoffs and the World Junior Championships which hurt his rankings, however, he has drawn comparisons to Jaromir Jagr.
Rounding out the top 5 players in Michael Dal Colle of the Oshawa Generals. Dal Colle had a quietly sound season with the Generals as he went about his business. He racked up 39 goals and 95 points in 67 games on way to making the top 5 of CSS rankings. Dal Colle is 6 foo 1 but a very good and fast moving skater who can play in every situation. He can score goals, play the point on a PP and kill penalties. He’s a big body that could easily turn into a very good and versatile power forward in the NHL.
Falling just outside the top 5 at 12, was Alex Tuch the top ranked American born player. Tuch comes from the very deep United States National Team Development Program where he recorded 28 goals and 60 points. He’s a Boston College recruit, but someone who can become a very solid power forward.
For a complete rankings, including Europeans and goaltenders you can check out the full CSS rankings here. Who goes first? Who moves inside the top 5 and who falls out? It will all unfold in June!