The Sabres Observer
by @DaveDavisHockey on 05/19/14 at 01:07 PM ET
I'm not an NHL scout, so I won't pretend to be one.
But I know what qualities I like in a player, and I have a pretty good idea which prospect at the top of the 2014 board would fit right in the wheelhouse of what the face of the Sabres franchise should look like, 2015 draft possibilities notwithstanding.
I've recently spent some time perusing game footage of Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett and Aaron Ekblad. One thing I know for sure is that I've decided which player I want the Sabres to select, assuming he's available.
The first thing I'm going to do here is take Ekblad out of the equation. It's so rare that you get an opportunity to get the best (or second-best) scorer in the draft, and the Sabres so badly need offense that I say they have to go with a forward.
That leaves us with two guys named Sam.
When I watched Reinhart, he certainly had great vision and made some clever plays on the ice. He looks like a prototype finesse player.
We've had plenty of finesse players represent the Sabres over the years, and that usually hasn't worked out so well. Granted, none of those guys were drafted second overall. But some experts will tell you that this group lacks a standout, and that the 8th or 10th player taken in 2014 could end up being the best player in the class.
The more I saw of Reinhart, the more it felt like I was watching Cody Hodgson -- you know, the center-demoted-to-winger who is currently turning heads as he lights it up against players from Denmark and Italy.
Watching Bennett was different. He was going full throttle at all times. He drove straight for the net often, and didn't care who was in his way. When you watch him, he jumps off the screen at you. His intensity is clearly visible. Sabres fans like myself eat that stuff right up.
For what it's worth, Central Scouting likes Bennett enough to rank him at the top of the 2014 prospect list. But that in itself doesn't say a whole lot this year. It's pretty close at the top.
Nonetheless, I've been around Buffalo fans for a long, long time. There's no doubt in my mind this town would love Bennett more than Reinhart based on playing styles alone.
I don't know if he'll score more points than Reinhart, and I'm not enough of an authority to be able to tell you who will have a better NHL career. But I know who I like, and he's the guy that wants to be Doug Gilmour and sure does play a lot like him. I hope Florida passes on Bennett and #93 ends up a Sabre.
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About The Sabres Observer
Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003. He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene. Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]