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by Kris Baker / Buffalo Sabres

Now that the Sabres know they’ll be picking second in this June’s Entry Draft, it’s time to start focusing on the players they could be looking at. Today, Kris Baker from gives his thoughts on the five players that NHL Central Scouting has tabbed as this year’s top prospects.

1 – Sam Bennett
Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Center; 6’ 0.25”, 178 lbs.
2013-14: 57 games, 36-55-91, 118 PIM

What does Baker think?
“Bennett combines a great skating game with superior speed and quickness to make things difficult for the opposition at both ends of the rink. The potential for consistent offense is in place as evidenced by his 36 goals and 91 points with Kingston (which included a 25-game point streak), but Bennett completes the offering with a pesky, energetic style that sees him shoulder guys off the puck and employ savvy use of his stick to cause turnovers. A former minor hockey line mate of 2015 draft stud Connor McDavid, Bennett has the skill, versatility and a win at all costs attitude that clubs covet come draft day.”

2 – Aaron Ekblad
Barrie Colts (OHL)
Defenseman; 6’ 3.5”, 216 lbs.
2013-14: 58 games, 23-30-53, 91 PIM

What does Baker think?
“A steady and dominant man-child at the junior level, Ekblad’s size and well-rounded skill set presents perhaps the lowest risk prospect in the 2014 draft class. Ekblad displayed his fluid skating stride, smart shutdown game, and an ability to pound the puck en route to leading all OHL defenders in 2013-14 with 23 goals, including 16 with the man advantage, all the while earning first-place honors for best shot, hardest shot, best offensive defenseman and best defensive defenseman in the OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll. All signs point to Ekblad becoming a top pair, all-situations NHL workhorse in short order.”

3 – Sam Reinhart
Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Center; 6’ 0.75”, 185 lbs.
2013-14: 60 games, 36-69-105, 11 PIM

What does Baker think?
“There is little flash to Reinhart's game, but the lack of sizzle is made up with smarts, vision and character to put the productive pivot near the top of the class. Reinhart is equal parts leader and gifted playmaker, but his greatest standout quality is his patient, confident circulation of the puck in all three zones. While a smooth offensive cog, Reinhart is also a highly proficient goal scorer who finds space down low to finish plays. The son of former NHLer Paul, Reinhart could plug into any team’s future plans as a legitimate center prospect with great poise and a knack for knowing where everyone is at all times.”

4 – Leon Draisaitl
Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Center; 6’ 1.5”, 204 lbs.
2013-14: 64 games, 38-67-105, 24 PIM

What does Baker think?
“A big body with a big shot, Draisaitl’s hands around the net are among the best in the draft class. Mix in an engaged physical game and top notch puck control, and you have a compelling NHL package that should fill a scoring line role and put up power play points from his spot in the right faceoff circle. Draisaitl logged a sub-par performance for an overmatched German squad at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship, but he turned it on late in his second WHL season, using his hard-driving skill to close with 49 points in his final 25 regular season games to cement his spot in the top five.”

5 – Michael Dal Colle
Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Left Wing; 6’ 1.5”, 182 lbs.
2013-14: 67 games, 39-56-95, 34 PIM

What does Baker think?
“A 39-goal scorer in the OHL as a 17-year old, Dal Colle is a hard-skating, high-skill shooter with good playmaking instincts and an NHL-friendly frame. He uses his size to protect the puck and compete for position down low, and he does a good job gliding into the middle of the ice to improve his angle and leverage his quick release. Dal Colle is a committed player in the defensive zone as well, giving the left wing sniper a solid platform to build from as he continues to gain mass and add quickness to his burgeoning power forward game.”

For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s web site - You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.

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