#8: Sam Bennett
Team: Calgary Flames
Drafted: 2014, 1st Round, Pick 4
Last Year: #5
Voting Points: 2455
Who is Sam Bennett? Is he the player the Flames thought so highly of that they drafted him with the #4 overall pick in 2014? Or is he the 3rd or 4th line player who hasn’t excelled and grown in his first three full seasons in the NHL? Bennett’s career has been nothing short on an enigma. Yes, he’s still young (22). He has shown glimpses of the talent the Flames thought they saw when drafting him. However, he doesn’t seem to be getting any better the more time passes. Sure, 3 years isn’t a large sample by any stretch, but his numbers aren’t improving and the Flames still don’t know if he’s a centre or a forward.
His best season was his first full year in 2015-16 where he played in 71 games and totaled 36 points. He looked like he was NHL ready and his game was starting to translate. Since then his game has declined. In 2016-17 he played in 81 games and had 26 points. Ten more games, 10 less points. Then came last year where he played in all 82 games and still had the same point total (26) from the previous season. While he cut back on penalty minutes, he took 35 more shots (157 v 122) in 2017-18, yet scored 3 less goals.
I’d love to be wrong about Sam Bennett, but it just feels like he may be trending towards bust category. You hate to label a 22 year old kid as a “bust” this early in his career, but he’s not doing anything to quiet his detractors. As a #4 overall pick, it shouldn’t matter what line he’s on or who’s skating out there with him. He should be able to carry the line he’s on and that’s something he’s been incapable of doing.
You voted him #8, so here he is (he slipped from #5 last season), but the clock is ticking on Sam Bennett and this season is a make or break for the young forward. Maybe a change of scenery would do him some good, maybe he’ll catch fire this year and take the league by storm. I’d love for it to be the latter, but his track record trends towards the former.
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