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JW: Eyes on the Prize(s)

We don't have to have the debate about whether or not it's best for the Sabres to win or lose on a given night.  At this point it would seem that both sides are firmly dug in.  If you want wins to build culture, then live it up.  If you want losses for the draft pick, take a look at what we have in store for you...behind pick #1.

If you're like me then you have no shame in admitting that every Sabres loss feels like it  goes for the greater good.  It's not so much that I want them to lose, it's that I see more benefit in losing.  The idea that late season wins will help foster a winning culture is a nice idea, but it's just not something that I really believe in.

Lindy Ruff's final full season in Buffalo featured a 15-6-3 close to the season.  The next year he was fired halfway through a lockout shortened season.  Ron Rolston's Sabres finished out April of 2013 at 8-4.  He went on to win four of the Sabres first twenty games this year.

Maybe you think the culture changes with wins that improve your playoff standing from 0.00002 to 0.00008%

I don't.  If you know me at all, or listen to the station in the mornings, you know where I stand.  Every loss helps the Sabres get their pick of the litter.  While there might be several good players, I'm rooting for the Sabres to have their choice.  Isn't that at the heart of it?  My team gets to pick who they want.  Perfect scenario.

The top of the NHL Draft is the home of the future stars of the league.  This year there is a group of five players that NHL Central Scouting Director Dan Marr spoke of Tuesday.  

Sam Bennett - Kingston Frontenacs - 6'0'' LW 

Bennett has risen to the top of the NHL Central Scouting Rankings, leapfrogging both Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad.  Armed with one of the best shots in the draft class, Bennett could fit a need for the Sabres.  That need? FREAKING WINGERS.  The Sabres have so little on the wing, that an elite level scoring winger would make a lot of sense at #1 (or wherever they ultimately pick).  I know we're always talking #1 center, but the Sabres have a few guys in the center role that they're grooming and next to nothing on the wing.

Central Scouting's Chris Edwards to

“Bennett has not only been very noticeable but extremely effective every shift of every game so far this season.  His puckhandling and playmaking are excellent and he has one of the best shots in this year’s draft class. He has scored several goals from the high slot and coming in off the wing and has been very effective on the power play. He’s a player that can play in all situations, elevate his game and rise to the occasion.”

Dan Marr referred to him as "a warrior" and one Western Conference scout tells, Bennett is "a legitimate, high-end player...a 200-foot game and off-the-chart intangibles.”

*NHL Comparison:  Joe Pavelski

*I know these are never fair, but if someone's saying it I figure you might want to know it.

Leon Draisatl - Prince Albert Raiders - 6'1'' C/LW

Rising to the #2 overall spot in the NHL Central Scouting Rankings is a German prospect playing in the WHL.  Draisatl (pronounced Dry-ZATE-el) is listed as the 7th best skater by International Scouting Services (ISS).

Prince Albert GM Bruno Campese told Ryan Campbell of The Hockey News, "He makes plays equally forehand and backhand, which is usually hit and miss at our level.  High skill, big frame, he protects and shields the puck…and his playmaking is through the roof."

He's had a great year in the WHL, but things didn't go well at World Juniors for Draisatl, leaving some wondering a bit.  Body of work is impressive, but this was not a good showing.

Sam Reinhart - Kootenay Ice - 6'1'' C

Often described as a "nifty" center, Sam Reinhart slips to 4th overall in Central Scouting's rankings but many seem to believe that mean anything on draft day.  There's another player you may have heard of that went #1 overall, despite being ranked the 4th North American skater in the midterm report.  Patrick Kane.

*NHL Comparison - Logan Couture

Aaron Ekblad - Barrie Colts - 6'4'' D

The top defenseman in this year's draft, Aaron Ekblad has been named a team captain for the upcoming Canadian prospects game (along with Sam Reinhart).  Ekblad is often described as a "man-child" that many will connect to Edmonton because of their need for more help on D.  (Aside...I promise you that Edmonton is going to be good.  All of those "what about Edmonton?" people will have to find a new team with a bunch of good picks because the Oilers are stacked to be awesome soon).

*NHL Comparison - Shea Weber (Dan Marr of Central Scouting said it on Tuesday)

There's a lot to like about Ekblad.

Michael Dal Colle - Vaughan Kings - 6'2'' C - Dal Colle is a bull who uses his natural talents well. He's got an imposing frame and already shows great balance and strength on his skates. He plays a two-way game, battles hard and displays quick hands for his size.


I'll have more detailed breakdowns of these prospects as we get closer to the draft.  Here's the short of it - They're all good.

A loss last night was another step closer to getting your pick.

Eyes on the prize.