Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett Has Undeniable Superstar Potential

CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 10: Sam Bennett
CALGARY, AB - DECEMBER 10: Sam Bennett /

After a rough start to the season, Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett is rolling. The most encouraging news isn’t his rising point total, it’s his exceptional play overall.

Bust. That is a word Calgary Flames winger (emphasis on winger) Sam Bennett has heard a lot in the past two seasons. His confidence was clearly shot during the 2016-17 season, with only 26 points in 81 games. The underwhelming numbers combined with accusations of being “disengaged” surely didn’t help the former 4th overall pick to get off the schneid. With a similar start to this season where he had zero points in his first 15 games and trade rumours swirling, it’s safe to say the Flames organization and faithful were concerned. However, since being moved from center to LW (the position where he impressed during his rookie year in 2015-16) and finding chemistry with linemates Mark Jankowski and Garnet Hathaway, #93’s career is experiencing a complete 180.

Bennett has 10 points in his last 12 games and looks like the superstar the Flames pegged him to be when he was drafted. More importantly, Bennett’s confidence is high right now, which has translated into excellent play.

Via Sportsnet:

"“I feel like my game’s been going in the right direction and our line has been generating chances and I’ve felt pretty good about my game the last couple weeks,”“Even when it wasn’t going in we were getting a lot of good looks. As long as you’re getting those I knew the production would come.”“But you’ve just got to keep telling yourself to stick with it and the points will come.”"

It is clear that having gone through adversity has certainly helped Bennett as a hockey player and as a person. I believe that he is stronger and will continue to blossom as not only an impact player, but as a budding superstar. Yeah, I said the S word.

Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames /

Calgary Flames

Now, don’t get me wrong, I realize that’s a massive claim, but I truly think Bennett has the tools to achieve stardom. Despite having great hands, good hockey IQ and a wicked release, I do not think any of those attributes are what is going to separate him from the average NHL player. It’s his puck-hungry, crash-and-bang speed game that he executes so well when he is playing up to his ability.

Bennett fishes pucks out of corners while using blue-collar speed to his advantage like few in the league. Much of the problem last year was just that: Too much finesse, not enough hard-nosed work. He will definitely be a one-of-a-kind superstar if he can keep prioritizing grit and hard work over pure skill. Oh, and don’t get it twisted, he does have a ton of raw talent and skill too.

A superstar doesn’t only score goals and rack up assists, but plays a complete 200-foot game. Bennett is a smart defensive player (save his occasional questionable penalties), and is a physical force. Everyone remembers how he couldn’t do a single pull-up at the 2014 draft combine. However, nobody seems to mention how he is unafraid to throw his weight around in any situation. Bennett has 100+ hits in each of his first 3 seasons, with 49 already in 36 games this year. To put that in perspective: Micheal Ferland, the team leader in that category, has only 17 more than Bennett.

CALGARY, AB – OCTOBER 30 2017: (Photo by Brad Watson/NHLI via Getty Images)
CALGARY, AB – OCTOBER 30 2017: (Photo by Brad Watson/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Flames fans are rejoicing to see the highest pick in franchise history play the best hockey of his career. I’m willing to bet that GM Brad Treliving has the same feeling. Now that the skeptics have silenced, Bennett can focus on simply playing hockey. I think he has been the Flames best player in the month of December. If he keeps playing the way he is, who knows where the ceiling of potential is for the 21-year-old.

Next: Dube and Valimaki named Captains at WJC

I hope Bennett stays on the wing, he is so good there.