The Calgary Flames picked Sam Bennett in the first round of the NHL draft. At 6’1” and 185 lbs, Bennett played in the 2013 U18 Championship on Team Canada and earned 3 goals and 4 assists during his seven games and helped Canada to win the tournament. In two seasons with the Kingston Frontenacs, he garnered 131 points in 115 games. This kid has skill that is obvious in the stats.
Yet, as was pointed out by the National Post, Bennett made headlines for not being able to do a pull-up in spite of being ranked as number one North America skater. For as much as the lack of pull-ups had affected him, we have to give credit where credit is due – he’s 18 years old and was playing in the CHL – I didn’t have half the ambition of this young man when I was eighteen! Just because he didn’t do a pull-up doesn’t mean that he’s any less of a skater or hockey player.
But, guess who’s laughing now? Yep, Bennett himself, as he is now able to do pull-ups, been signed to the Flames organization, and attended Flames Development Camp. After development camp, Bennett seems to know more of what it takes to succeed, but explained on NHL.com, “I’m going to do whatever it takes” even though he is realistic in his expectations. I see a great work-ethic, a naturally talented hockey player, and ambition that could rival anyone else in the league. We’ll see great things out of Sam Bennett in the future.
While Sam Bennett will be looking to secure a spot on the Calgary roster, Mark Cundari is also keeping his eye on the prize after being re-signed by the Flames recently. As Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald explained, Cundari knows that opportunity has knocked now that some of the defenders have left the team since free agency. With a new one-year contract, the 5’9″ defenseman said, “…it does open up some doors for me.” But, I believe, Cundari knows it won’t be easy.
After watching him play four games with the Flames last season as well as four other games during the 2012-2013 season, I’ve seen some major changes in him. In his first season, playing four games at the NHL level, Cundari looked like a raging bull out of the gate. He skated hard, put too much physicality into his play, and looked unrefined. Yet, last season, I saw a different player. Cundari looked more poised and controlled on the blue line. I found myself nodding in appreciation of the obvious effort he put into plays instead of shaking my head as I had the year before. I think he’s progressing well and has a good chance if he keeps his head in the game and not just his body.
Good luck to both of the guys in their hockey quest! I’m looking forward to seeing each of them play this season.
Go Flames Go!