Bennett, Kapanen named top prospects for 2014 NHL Entry Draft

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The NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau has unveiled its midterm rankings for the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and, to some surprise, has named OHL Kingston forward Sam Bennett as the top North American skater eligible for selection.

“Bennett has not only been very noticeable but extremely effective every shift of every game so far this season,” Central Scouting’s OHL specialist Chris Edwards told NHL.com. “His puckhandling and playmaking are excellent and he has one of the best shots in this year’s draft class.”

From the European side of things, Kasperi Kapanen — son of longtime NHLer Sami Kapanen — was named the No. 1 prospect. Kasperi has spent the last two years playing alongside Sami for Kalpa of the Finnish Elite League and has eight points through 30 games this season.

Bennett, 17, got the North American nod over other highly-touted and more recognizable names, including WHL Kootenay forward Sam Reinhart and OHL Barrie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, both of whom represented Team Canada at the ’14 World Juniors (Bennett didn’t make the team.)

Bennett, a left-handed shot, ranks fourth in the OHL with 66 points (26 goals, 40 assists) in 40 games.

This year’s draft will be held on June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. For the full list of Central Scouting’s North American skaters, click here. For the European rankings, click here.

(Image courtesy the Ontario Hockey League).