Bennett was the choice between the two Sams for the DBTB War Room, as Aaron Ekblad went #1 overall to the Florida Panthers earlier today. The Sabres will likely have the same choice to make, as all reports indicate that Florida is leaning toward Ekblad come the real-life draft. So what made Bennett the choice for us over Reinhart or others, like Leon Draisaitl?
It starts with something that the Sabres have so desperately lacked in recent seasons - explosiveness. While he's not the fastest guy in the draft, Bennett has a great first step and good acceleration, and that combined with his wicked shot makes for a very exciting offensive player. "He is one of those players that, every time he has the puck, you get to the edge of your seat because you know something is going to happen with it," says his coach Todd Gill, and Bennett made things happen this season to the tune of 36-55-91 in 57 games for Kingston, a performance which earned him the #1 ranking by NHL Central Scouting.
But explosive offensive ability isn't the only thing Bennett brings to the table - he also plays a very physical game, and brings his sandpaper to all three zones on the ice. He's been described as "absolutely miserable to play against" by NHL scouts, and has been compared multiple times to Jonathan Toews thanks to his smarts, his playmaking ability, and his defensive prowess.
Bennett's versatility to play center and left wing is a bonus, if the Sabres want to peer into their crystal ball and assume that next year's first round pick will be the top center ahead of Cody Hodgson, Tyler Ennis, or Zemgus Girgensons. At his best, Bennett projects to be a top #1 center in the Toews mold, but even at the very worst, you're looking at one of the best #2 centers in the league - Bennett is a fairly safe top choice thanks to his high work ethic and strong mental makeup.
While Tim Murray has stated repeatedly that the Sabres will take the best player regardless of position, most people would be shocked to see them take anything but a scoring center, and Sam Bennett will jump immediately to the very top of Buffalo's already-impressive prospect pool. Any Sabres pick will likely spend next year in juniors (again, per Murray) but Bennett will give Buffalo a player to fall in love with as we trudge through next season.
Oh, and he can do two pull-ups now.