Beyond The Benches

Sam Bennett Ready To Help Calgary Flames

For many years the Ontario Hockey League has hosted an oasis of young talent which eventually, through the means of the NHL Entry Draft, finds its way in to the National Hockey League. This year was no exception, as it was home to the top two North American Prospects as rated by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau; Aaron Ekblad and Sam Bennett. With the scarce amount of available blueliners in todays NHL, Ekblad was selected first overall by the Florida Panthers. The Calgary Flames, with the fourth overall pick, selected Sam Bennett, the 18-year-old Canadien Center.

While many projected Bennett to go even sooner than the fourth pick, he should be a good fit in Calgary. Bennett will, with time, fill the role of the much needed power forward that Calgary has been seeking since the loss of veteran all-star Jarome Iginla. Bennett is a significantly than the 215-pound Iginla, weighing in at just 185 pounds. This puts Bennett towards the bottom bar of what is considered a power forward, similar to players such as Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds.

One area where Bennett is likely to beat Iginla is in penalty minutes. While Iginla generally hovered somewhere around the 50 penalty minutes per season mark (give or take), Bennett received a whopping 118 penalty minutes in 57 games with the Kingston Frontenacs. While it’s unlikely that he keeps quite this pace when he is up against NHL players, it is clearly part of Bennett’s playing style to be physical and, likely, get in his opponents faces.

Another area likely to take at least a temporary statistical hit is Bennett’s point production. The young forward had a phenomenal 2013-14 season, contributing 91 points (36 goals, 55 assists) over the same 57 games. His massive point production was a major factor in Bennett’s stellar +/- rating of +34 at the end of the season. It will be interesting to see how well Bennett can maintain these numbers on a relatively streaky offensive team.

The addition of goalie Jonas Hiller certainly should help the Calgary Flames and Sam Bennett to perform better than some of their previous seasons. With the help of offensive talent such as Jiri Hudler, recent acquisition Mason Raymond, and stunning prospect Johnny Gaudreau, the Flames could turn some heads in the 2014-15 NHL season. Make sure to keep an eye on fourth overall 2014 NHL Entry Draft pick Sam Bennett in the years to come.

Writer: Timmy Sclafani is a Sophomore Journalism student at Roger Williams University. He is not only passionate about hockey, but also film, biking, and music. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @tsclafani20