Friedman on Bennett, re-adjusting expectations

Sam Bennett finds himself in trade rumors fairly often, but the Calgary Flames haven’t given up on him yet.

It’s fair to say that the fourth overall pick from the 2014 draft hasn’t necessarily lived up to expectations to this point in his young career, but perhaps the prism through which those expectations are viewed needs to be shifted.

Elliotte Friedman had a Friday morning radio hit on Calgary’s Sportsnet 960.

As part of a larger discussion on the impact young players have in today’s NHL, Friedman noted that not all of those kids develop at the same rate.

At this juncture, Friedman was pointed toward Sam Bennett of the Flames, who is 22 years old, “and everyone is freaking out because he’s only scored 18 once.”

“I think the one thing about Sam Bennett is - and I want to say this carefully,” considered Friedman. “What I see in Sam Bennett is I see a guy who has a chance to be a really effective player. A really effective player, like a second or third-line guy - on the right team, potentially even a first-line guy - but he’s not going to be a huge scorer. I’m not convinced Sam Bennett is going to be a huge scorer, but I do think he can be a really effective pest, annoying, decent goal-scorer. And I think in his case we’re going to have to re-adjust what we think of him.

“If you’re expecting Sam Bennett to come in and be a franchise-altering player, I don’t think that’s the case. But if you look at him as a really good player who’s going to play a lot of years in this league and can play a very effective role… like if he turns into a guy who drives the other team crazy, scores 20 goals to 50 points a year, and turns around games by being that player that everybody hates - I think everybody would be ecstatic with that.

“You bring up a good point. If Sam Bennett was a third-round pick and did that, everybody would be, ‘Alright.’ But because he’s a fourth overall pick and he’s doing that, people are going to say, ‘That’s not good.’

“Hey, sometimes it works out that way. If you get a fourth overall pick who plays 10 years for you and is an effective player, you’re ahead of the game. I think if people are looking at Sam Bennett as a flop you have to re-adjust your thinking because he’s not a flop - he could be a very good player for a very long time, just maybe doing different things than you expected.”

Bennett has two goals and two assists in 16 starts.

As the conversation continued on 960, Friedman was asked about how Max Domi has flourished with the Montreal Canadiens since the June trade with the Arizona Coyotes.

At one point, Friedman shared this observation:

“I know that Calgary is looking at a guy like Max Domi and what he’s doing in Montreal and saying, ‘That’s why we’re not trading Sam Bennett.’

“I guess Bennett’s numbers were really down the other night against Anaheim, and I’m sure he’s not happy about that. But I think the Flames look at it like, ‘We’re going to figure this out, and you’re going to be here. We’re not dealing you anywhere else because we don’t want to see you turn into something better somewhere else.’”

Bennett is in the back half of a two-year, $3.9 million contract and will have arbitration rights this summer.

Contract-related info via CapFriendly