Sam Bennett hasn’t fully lived up to expectations in his first two seasons with the Calgary Flames, but it’s far too early to think about trading him.
Well, let’s just say that patience is starting to wear thin on Bennett. He was limited to one game in 2014-15, needing shoulder surgery which kept him out for five months of action. Bennett then showed signs of getting it together in 2015-16, scoring 18 goals and 36 points in 77 games.
But 2016-17 wasn’t kind to Bennett. He didn’t have an easy time adjusting to head coach Glen Gulutzan’s puck possession system. Bennett scored just 13 goals and 26 points, and many are wondering if general manager Brad Treliving is looking at trading him.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman had this to say in his 30 Thoughts column on the weekend:
"“There’s been a lot of fire around Sam Bennett (some of it my fault), but one exec indicated Calgary told them, ‘We’re not interested in plugging one hole by opening another.’ So, if it happens, it’s going to be expensive.”"
More from Flame for Thought
- Updates from Conroy: UFAs, main camp, captaincy, goaltending, prospects
- Fantasy Hockey: Potential Calgary Flames sleeper picks
- Flames captaincy updates and candidate rankings
- Camp Notes: Previewing Calgary Flames Prospects at the Young Stars Classic
- Could Flames goalie Dan Vladar be a trade option for the Avalanche?
Listen, I understand the frustration of Bennett’s progress. Considering studs like William Nylander (eighth), Nikolaj Ehlers (ninth), Dylan Larkin (15th), and David Pastrnak (25th), could have been selected with the fourth pick, it’s easy to pinpoint Bennett as a disappointment.
He was selected ninth-overall in 2013, and didn’t break out until this season — leading the Canucks in scoring with 20 goals and 52 points. Patience is key for these young players.
Bennett wasn’t the only Flame that struggled to adjust to Gulutzan’s system — which I may add was a lot more complexed than that of Bob Hartley’s. Johnny Gaudreau scored 12 less goals and 17 points in 2016-17 than he did all of last season. I don’t see or hear anybody screaming for him to get traded.
Even if the Flames were to trade Bennett, what are the odds they’ll get equal value in return? No general manager is going to give Calgary an elite prospect or quality roster player for a guy who hasn’t scored more than 36 points in a season.
Bennett has two full NHL seasons under his belt. He’s now played one full year under Gulutzan. For all we know, he’ll finally put it all together in 2017-18. If he doesn’t, then maybe Calgary will look at pulling the plug on the Bennett experiment.
But given his youth and upside, it would be a big mistake if they traded away a fourth-overall draft selection after just two NHL seasons. Now is not the time for the Calgary Flames to give up on and trade Sam Bennett.