Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart is not the only Sam to head the 2014 NHL Draft class. Kingston Frontenacs center Sam Bennett has played his way onto a top five shortlist for the June draft.
The Holland Landing, Ontario native currently sits sixth in the OHL in scoring with 24 goals, 37 assists for 61 points in 38 games played. He’s only two points behind Oshawa’s Michael Dal Colle for most points for any ’14 draft eligible player in the OHL. Between Bennett, defenseman Roland McKeown, and Austin Watson, Kingston has become a routine destination for the NHL scouts this season.
Bennett first caught the eyes of scouts at last year’s Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Tournament where he registered three goals and one assist in five games played for Team Canada. Bennett is one of the most complete forwards there is for the draft.
Speed and elite skating ability define Sam Bennett’s game. He’s a true 200-foot player who can play all aspects of the game. He’s superb on the powerplay and penalty kill, and his awareness in his own zone is impressive.
Offensively, Bennett could best describe as crafty. He can create offense off the rush and with his slick skating ability and soft hands, he’s elusive to catch on the ice. He’s not the most flashiest player, but he possesses an excellent release. The video below shows a goal Bennett scored against the Barrie Colts back on December 6th.
Bennett just keeps getting better and better as the year progresses. He looks like the type of player who could carry his team atop his shoulders and do everything in his power to win. He just finds a way to get the job done.
The one negative going against Bennett right now is his size. He’s listed at 6’0, 178 pounds, and an additional 10-15 pounds I think will do him wonders. Once he grows into his frame, I think he’ll be a scary player at the NHL level. The good thing for Bennett is he trains with hockey fitness guru Andy O’Brien in the off-season. O’Brien’s clientele includes Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza, and Jeff Skinner.
Stylistically, Bennett reminds me of L.A. Kings forward Mike Richards with a flash of Patrick Kane. Like Richards, Bennett is great leader and all-around responsible player in both the offensive and defensive zones. The Kane comparison comes with his downright sick puck-handling skills. Bennett projects to be a top 2 center in the NHL.
So where does Bennett project to go in the draft?
Right now, I think he’s a surefire bet to go in the top 10 and if he continues to play like he’s doing now with the Fronts, a top-five selection is not out of the realm of possibility. Bennett is arguably the biggest riser in the 2014 class and I think his ascent will only continue all the way to Philadelphia this June.