Calgary Flames: Why Is Sam Bennett’s Contract Taking So Long?

CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 13: Sam Bennett. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB - FEBRUARY 13: Sam Bennett. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Calgary Flames have taken care of the majority of their restricted free agent signings. The one name, however, that remains unsigned is arguably their most important. So what is the holdup?

Everything appears to be progressing well. In early July, Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving signed RFAs Curtis Lazar and Micheal Ferland within a day of each other. Ramina Shlah wrote about it here.  Both signings were important for the team. In Ferland’s case, Treliving avoided the often-nasty arbitration hearing process.

More recently, the team signed Garnet Hathaway to one-year deal. Then, first round draft pick Juuso Valimaki signed his entry level deal. Treliving followed that up by locking up goalies Jon Gillies and David Rittich.

There are a few names left to sign, but none are more interesting than Sam Bennett.

Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames /

Calgary Flames

I thought this would be an easy one.  Although Bennett was Calgary’s highest-ever draft selection, he has not truly met expectations.  His 2016-2017 point totals were down from the year before. Similarly, his team controlled the puck well under half the time with him on the ice.  This was not the case the year before.

The Flames obviously still believe in Bennett. He was on the list of players protected from selection by the Vegas Golden Knights during the expansion draft. I thought he was a standout in the playoffs, with 2 goals in the series loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

Altogether, it seems like the team wants him back. But his numbers don’t support a massive contract in either term or dollars. Add to that the fact that Treliving may want to clarify the team’s salary cap position in order to address needs at right wing, it feels like a no-brainer.

A quick-and-easy bridge deal should have been signed by now.  So, why hasn’t it?

The obvious answer is that the Flames and Bennett’s representatives cannot come together on a contract.  Nobody would be surprised to hear that Bennett wanted more money and a longer term than Treliving was willing to give.  Ramina Shlah estimated Bennett’s next deal being between $2.75 and $3.5 million per year.  On the other side of that, I can see how Treliving would not want to give Bennett more than Micheal Ferland’s $1.75 million.

Perhaps, though, Treliving is cooking up something else. This is pure speculation, but could he be trying to work out a sign-and-trade deal?  It isn’t that far fetched. Bennett is probably the Calgary Flames’ most movable asset. By that I mean he has value on the trade market (the Ducks like him, according to Elliotte Friedman), and the Flames have excess inventory at the centre ice position. So, he is relatively expendable. It’s fair to say that a move like that would be a very cap-friendly way to get Calgary a right winger not named Brouwer.

Bennett’s contract should be an easy one to get done. The fact that it isn’t gives me pause.   Either way, my feeling is that the Flames will get a good player. I believe that the Sam Bennett that we see in 2017-2018 will be the one we saw in the playoffs against the Ducks. He will be tough, productive and won’t fear the corners. If he is traded, I’m sure the return won’t be a slouch either.

Next: Calgary Flames Sign 2017 First-Round Pick to Entry-Level Contract

At least the Flames won’t be in cap-hell. Connor McWho?