During a meeting with the WGR staff, Buffalo Sabres’ general manager Tim Murray was asked if he knows who he would like to take with the No. 2 overall pick. His answer: Yes.
If you have read mock drafts or looked at Central Scouting rankings, you are probably under the assumption the Florida Panthers will take defenseman Aaron Ekblad and Sabres are targeting either Sam Bennett or Sam Reinhart. But Murray talked about the top of the draft as if there are four possible candidates for the top pick.
The missing name in the conversation has been German-born forward Leon Draisaitl, who Murray included in his mini list of possible picks at either No. 1 or No. 2.
Central Scouting has him as the fourth ranked North American skater.
The Central Scouting list does not always translate to the order in which players are drafted. The No. 1 player on their list last year Seth Jones was taken fourth. In 2012, Alex Galchenyuk was selected by Montreal at No. 3 after being ranked fourth.
So could the Sabres see him as a better prospect than the Sams? Could they see him as a player who will drop a few slots, giving them an opportunity to trade down?
Central Scouting’s description of Draisaitl sounds like a guy who belongs with the elite class:
"You want to talk about a miniature Jaromir Jagr with a Doug Gilmour-type intensity, you've got him right here," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told NHL.com.
"Draisaitl does it all for his team; he's displayed a willingness to compete and be a difference maker game in and game out," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald said. "He's got good power and size. I feel he's also had to overcome more and work harder than most players."
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound center scored 38 goals and 67 assists in 64 games for the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL. His scoring total was identical to Reinhart, who notched 36 goals and 69 assists.
NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said a good comparison for Draisaitl might be James van Riemsdyk of the Toronto Maple Leafs or Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings.