It was a matter of if, not when, Sam Bennett discovered a brand new handle. As soon as it was floated from his agent, Darren Ferris, in January that Bennett desired a change of surroundings, the toothpaste could not return within the tube. It lastly occurred on deadline-day Monday, with Calgary buying and selling the left winger to the Florida Panthers for prospect Emil Heineman and a 2022 second-round draft choose.
For the reason that Flames drafted Bennett fourth total in 2014, throughout which he’d earned Doug Gilmour comparisons when scouts projected his ceiling, Bennett solely produced in suits and begins. He confirmed ferocity on the forecheck however could not set up himself over the long run as a dependable scoring-line presence, or the Flames did not belief him within the position, or a little bit of each. It was a basic chicken-and-egg situation.
Bennett, 24, by no means produced at a degree even near his supposed potential but in addition by no means obtained a task reflecting the modestly useful impact he made at 5-on-5, grading out as above common in shot technology and bodily play. On a Florida Panthers crew missing depth at left wing, he’ll get a recent begin. Behind Jonathan Huberdeau, their No. 2 left winger job has been a revolving door together with Mason Marchment, Frank Vatrano and Anthony Duclair. That Bennett is not a transparent improve over any of them ought to qualify as a minor disappointment for those who’re a Panthers fan, however he definitely upgrades the crew’s depth. It’s going to even be attention-grabbing to see how he responds with an all-time nice coach in Joel Quenneville, who has at all times been adept at discovering methods to maximise his gamers’ potential through line matching.
There could also be an assumption Florida wished Bennett for his playoff prowess. He has a repute for elevating his play within the post-season, with 11 objectives in 30 video games, however a deeper look suggests his playoff numbers are pushed by an elevated capturing proportion, so it isn’t a assure he turns into ‘Playoff Bennett’ once more. Playoff Bennett would possibly simply be the product of some good puck luck.
Bennett had began to warmth up a bit underneath new coach Darryl Sutter in Calgary, with 5 factors in 4 video games main as much as the commerce, however it was nonetheless fairly a win for GM Brad Treliving to get a second-round choose and a prospect for Bennett given the Boston Bruins paid a second-round choose and Anders Bjork to get Curtis Lazar and a Hart Trophy winner in Taylor Corridor, as pointed out by Flames reporter Darren Haynes. As for the prospect acquired: left winger Heineman, 19, was rated because the Panthers’ No. 9 prospect by our panel of energetic NHL scouts and executives in Future Watch 2021. He is described in these pages as a two-way energy winger with good skating and work ethic. Heineman is taken into account a heart-and-soul participant who can play anyplace in a lineup. He repped Sweden on the 2020 world juniors and has transitioned to taking part in in opposition to males with Leksand within the Swedish League. His ceiling could also be one thing much like what Bennett has performed on the NHL degree, oddly sufficient.
So the Flames did moderately nicely with their return for Bennett. The one drawback with not securing a roster participant coming again their manner: the enlargement draft. If their roster stays as is, they will seemingly use a 7-3-1 scheme and defend forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikael Backlund, Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube – however they will be relying on Milan Lucic to waive his no-movement clause for that to occur. Assuming he is keen to do this, they need to make out OK, and it will imply they bought one thing tangible for Bennett fairly than dropping him to the Seattle Kraken for nothing.