Samuel Bennett, Leon Draisaitl, Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad are the top names to be honors at the 2014 NHL Draft in June.
At this stage in the 2014 NHL season, there seem to be four contenders in the top honors, including forwards Samuel Bennett of the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs, Leon Draisaitl of the OHL’s Prince Albert Raiders and Sam Reinhart of the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad of the OHL’s Barrie Colts. Also a chance forward Michael Dal Colle of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals might also sneak into the mix at some point preceding to the announcement of the No. 1 selection on June 27 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr and the top evaluators from the bureau will look to make sense of it all here this week at their last meeting to establish the final rankings of the top 210 North American skaters and 30 goalies. The six-day selection process begins Wednesday.
Bennett (6-foot-0.25, 178 pounds) completed his second season in Kingston with career highs across the board in goals (36), assists (55), points (91), power-play goals (10), penalty minutes (118) and plus-minus rating (plus-34).
Ekblad was granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada to be eligible for the 2011 OHL priority draft as a 15-year-old, a year younger than the standard age of 16, and was promptly selected by Barrie with the No. 1 pick.
The top American-born prospect is defenseman Anthony DeAngelo of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. DeAngelo, born in Sewell, N.J., is No. 10 on Central Scouting’s midterm rankings and finished as the leading scorer among defenseman in the league with 71 points (15 goals, 56 assists).