With 21-year-old Sam Bennett coming off of an entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames, let’s try to estimate what his next contract will be.
When Sam Bennett was initially drafted in 2014, it was an exciting moment for the kid. He would end up being the highest draft pick ever in Calgary Flames history at the fourth overall pick. But that happiness would soon fade after needing a shoulder surgery that would keep him sidelined for the majority of the season.
Once his shoulder would heal, he’d be sent back down to the OHL to finish the season. However, in a fun turn of events, the Flames made the playoffs in the 2014-2015 season for the first time in six years and they recalled him back up to play in the last game of the regular season.
He managed an assist that night and had four points in 11 playoff games that season. The future looked bright for this one.
But unfortunately, he hasn’t had the start to his NHL career as he would have liked. Or as the Flames would have liked. He has just 63 points in 159 regular season games and a rough -28 rating. This past season, he had just 13 goals and 26 points in 81 games. Yikes.
The Flames management are still confident in him and see his potential which is why they also chose to protect him in the expansion draft. But his entry-level contract is up and it’s time for the big bucks. He had an average salary of $925,000, but had the ability to gain $3.225 million with performance bonuses.
Like I said, now we’ll get into the big bucks. It’s hard to know exactly how much he’ll end up receiving. It’s different than a player like Johnny Gaudreau or even Connor McDavid with his new contract. Bennett’s somewhat of a special case. He was the highest pick in Calgary Flames history but he hasn’t lived up to that hype yet.
So like what one of our other writers here, Tomas, did with Micheal Ferland, I looked at players similar to Bennett’s age and numbers. Some of these players are a couple years older than Bennett, but I wanted a player who’s had a similar NHL career as Bennett and who put up close to the same amount of points he did this past season before getting signed to a new contract.
Here is what I came up with (all contract details taken from cap friendly):
Again, like I said, Bennett is a bit of a special case since he was taken at the fourth overall pick. All of these players were taken after him in their respective drafts and only two were actually in the first round. So it is quite difficult to guess what his contract will be. Also, Bennett has only played two full seasons in the NHL.
That being said, these players had similar histories to Bennett with how his career has been going. One that’s quite similar is Andrew Shaw. Shaw, in the 2015-2016 season had 34 points in 78 games before being signed to a six-year $3.9 million salary. This past season, he had 29 points in 78 games.
Like I mentioned above, Bennett had 26 points in 81 games. Last season, he had 36 points in 77 games. So not identical, but quite similar to Shaw’s last few seasons. I do see Bennett’s contract will be around the same region as Shaw and Casey Cizikas contracts. I don’t see the Flames signing him at less than $2.5 million, especially when there’s a player like Troy Brouwer who’s getting paid $4.5 million to basically annoy Flames fans.
I see a similar annual salary as Cizikas at the $3.35 million mark. Bennett’s contract will most likely end up being between $2.75 and $3.5 million. Bennett and his agent will definitely not want an underpay in case he strives, but you also don’t want to overpay (cough cough Troy Brouwer cough cough). Do I think Bennett will sign for five or six years? Probably not.
This is another area of interest – the length of contract. What I think will happen is that the Calgary Flames will want to sign Bennett for a two or three year contract. But only because of the potential they see in the kid, and he most likely won’t want to sign on a long-term contract at around $3 million a year if he’s starting to hit in the 65-75 points region the next season.
But then there’s the risk of him becoming a free agent at the age of 24 and if he excels, he’ll definitely spark interest from other teams who will most likely offer as much as the Flames will.
Like I said, Bennett’s a special case. But I believe he’ll be signing for two or three years at around $3.35 million salary. As long as there isn’t another Troy Brouwer mishap, I’ll be happy.