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NHL Central Scouting final rankings released

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Let the draft speculation begin!

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With the close of the season, many teams are looking to the playoffs, which start tonight. Other teams, including the Sabres, are looking forward to the 2016 NHL Draft. There are a few big milestones on the way to hosting the big event in Buffalo, and one of them is the release of NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, which happened earlier this week.

Check out the rankings here.

You can check out the rankings by following the link above, but the big story to come out of the release was the rise of North American winger Pierre-Luc Dubois from #7 in the midterm rankings all the way up to #1. Dubois skates for Cape Bretton of the QMJHL, and passed over Matthew Tkachuk, Jacob Chychrun, and Alexander Nylander (the previous top trio) on his rise to the top. Was it more about Dubois all-around game, or concerns with other skaters in the top 5? That'll be for NHL general managers to decide.

Over on the European side, things are as expected, with Auston Matthews at the top followed by wingers Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, who swapped spots since the midterm ranks. Those three could very well be the first three selections in the draft, and the Sabres would certainly be happy with any of them.

Speaking of the Sabres, they are currently slotted 8th in the draft order, but that of course will change when the top three picks are ping-ponged away in this year's draft lottery, being held on April 30th. While there's some debate about when this draft class "falls off," Sabres GM Tim Murray has said he believes there's a drop off at 3 and another drop off at 10 or 11, so, barring a lottery win, the Sabres should end up in a decent position to pick up a very good player at the end of the top ten.

Which player are you hoping the Sabres come out of the first round with?