Here's a rumor for Oilers fans to ponder.
And before you all start yelling "Source! Source!", I'll remind you that sources stop being sources the second you explain to people where information comes from. This isn't coming from the Oilers, I'll be clear about that. The concept that they'll take Ekblad at third overall doesn't come from anyone, actually. Just a simple process of elimination.
There are three players clearly at the top of the 2014 draft class: Centers Sam Bennett and Sam Reinhart, and defenseman Aaron Ekblad.
What I've been told is, the Panthers prefer Sam Bennett, and they will select him first overall. The Sabres have had their eyes focused on Sam Reinhart for some time, and he will be taken second overall. This paves the way for the Oilers to select Ekblad with the third pick.
This will happen for a few reasons:
- Defensemen are harder to predict than forwards. If the Panthers and Sabres have Bennett, Ekblad and Reinhart all ranked roughly equal in the prospect quality department, teams will draft the forward.
- The Panthers, who need to add both forwards and defensemen, want to add Bennett because of the level of passion he plays with. He's very intense and plays with a massive level of compete. He's willing to do anything to win. The Panthers believe they need to add someone like that to their roster.
- Bennett is almost a year younger than Reinhart and Ekblad, and that could mean there's more upside to him as a player than there appears to be.
The NHL Entry Draft always seems to fit together like Lego. Players seem to get drafted in logical ways. And Bob McKenzie always seems to have the script before everyone else does.
If the Panthers want an emotional leader, they will find that in Bennett. The Sabres need a future first line center who is responsible at both ends of the rink. That's Reinhart. And Ekblad, well, the one thing the Oilers list of prospects is missing is a future right-shot, puck-moving, top pairing defenseman. With Ekblad the future Oilers defense can be paired up something like Nurse/Ekblad, Marincin/Schultz and Klefbom/Petry. An ideal situation if there ever was one.