Rumors are starting to surface that Calgary forward Sam Bennett has asked for a change of scenery and a move away from Alberta. With the former 4th overall pick supposedly asking for a move, what would it take for the Carolina Hurricanes to acquire him and is it worth it for the organisation to do so?
Bennett was taken 4th overall in the 2014 NHL entry draft. Since being taken that high, he’s since been underwhelming. In 2014-15 Bennett played only 1 game, and got his first NHL point as an assist. In the following season, Bennett would tally 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points in 77 games as a rookie. That’s a great start to his career. “What’s the problem here?”, you might be asking.
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That’s the best season of his career. He followed it up with 13 goals and 13 assists in 81 games in 2016-17, 11 goals and 15 assists in 2017-18, 13 goals and 14 assists in 71 games in 2018-19, and 8 goals and 4 assists in 52 games in 2019-20. He has just a goal and an assist through 12 games played this season.
You may be asking yourself “Oh, so the guy is a bust. Why would the Canes consider a move for Bennett?”, and that’s a very good point. His stats aren’t the best. Offensively they’re lackluster and defensively, let’s just say if he was put on performance enhancing drugs, his defense could only dream of being lackluster. He’s better defensively than I am, but that’s not a high bar.
The Carolina Hurricanes may be interested in taking a swing at Bennett because of his low value. Right now, no sane person will tell you that Bennett is anything more than a 4th line guy. Carolina have already been bitten by the injury bug badly, and insurance forwards are never a bad thing to have. Plus, he is a former 4th overall pick. We’ve seen top 5 picks move and flourish, even in Carolina. Look at Nino Niederreiter.
He clearly had upside and talent like that, while it has the potential to disappear, doesn’t disappear often. Disgruntled players can sometimes find themselves succeeding in a different environment and that is going to be the selling point with any team in regards to Bennett, whether that’s Carolina or any other team.
Bennett is more of a “traditional” hockey player. Being 6’1, 200 lbs and knowing what to do with it will make him desirable for some of the teams in the NHL that wish to bulk up for a potential playoff run. Carolina aren’t the most physical of teams to begin with, and could certainly do with a big body like Bennett in their bottom six. To be fair, though, the acquisition of noted tough guy Cedric Paquette could make acquiring a guy like Bennett a tad bit redundant.
Now, something to remember is that Bennett plays in Calgary. He would have to isolate for 14 days when he crosses the border before being able to take his place in any American trade destination, unless he does what Paquette did and drives himself all the way down. Does this mean that the Canes should not pursue him? No, Canadian-American trades are still possible. It will just mean a temporarily disturbed roster.
If you want my personal opinion, I think a trade for Sam Bennett would be a reasonable idea depending on the price. If you’re being asked to move parts from your roster, that’s a no. But a late round draft pick if you can make the cap work is a typical buy low, sell high move. If it works, fantastic. If it doesn’t, who cares? It’s a late round pick.
At the end of the day, I cannot see any way in which Carolina justify making this move. It’s incredibly likely that they stick with the roster they have given how well the depth performed when the team had a COVID-19 outbreak. It’s been one of the positives to take from this season, despite the team having a good record at this point. If the team collapses between me writing this and the time it’s released, I take no blame.