Image courtesy OHL

Bennett finishes atop ’14 NHL Draft rankings


OHL Kingston center Sam Bennett shot to the top of NHL Central Scouting’s 2014 draft rankings back in January and, on Tuesday, he stayed there.

Bennett remained the No. 1 North American skater in the final Central Scouting rankings, the NHL announced today. The top five was rounded out by OHL Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad (No. 2), WHL Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart (No. 3), WHL Prince Albert’s Leon Draisaitl (No. 4) and OHL Oshawa’s Michael Dal Colle (No. 5).

“There are guys who elevate their game when it matters most, and you’re looking to project which players will do that consistently at the next level,” NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr said. “The guys we have at the top all are in that mold, but when we look at Sam Bennett we see a guy who could potentially have a Jonathan Toews type of career.”

On the European side of things, Kasperi Kapanen — son of longtime NHLer Sami Kapanen — was named the No. 1 prospect, just like he was back in January. Kasperi has spent the last two years playing alongside Sami for Kalpa of the Finnish Elite League and, at the tender age of 17, scored 14 points in 47 games this season.

Another son of an ex-NHLer, William Nylander — son of Michael — finished second in the CSS Rankings for European skaters.

(Image courtesy the OHL)

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.