With the NHL draft beginning on Friday night in Philadelphia, a list of clear-cut front-runners are ready to take the next step in their hockey careers.

Samuel Bennett

The No. 1-ranked skater in North America heading to the draft, Bennett is one of three centers expected to be taken in the first four slots. He was a finalist for the Red Tilson Trophy, given to the Ontartio Hockey League's most outstanding player, after tallying 91 points in 57 games.

Aaron EkbladThe Canadian was named the OHL's Most Outstanding Defenseman this past season, finishing with 23 goals to lead all blueliners in the league. Should the Panthers go that route, Ekblad would be the first defenseman chosen first overall since the Blues took Erik Johnson with the top pick in 2007.

Sam Reinhart

Another highly-touted center in this spring's class, Reinhart was named the Western Hockey League's 2013-14 Player of the Year. His 105 points in 60 games for the Kootenay Ice tied for fourth in the league. The draft has become a family affair as the Vancouver native's brother, Max, was taken in the third round in 2010 while his other brother, Griffin, and father, Paul, were chosen in the first round in 2012 and 1979, respectively.

Leon Draisaitl

The German wraps up this year's trio of anticipated centers, tying Reinhart with 105 points last season in WHL play. After Florida, the Sabres, Oilers and Flames will have a shot at Draisaitl as they pick in that order for a possible franchise cornerstone.