Opinion: Why Sam Bennett needed to sign

Personally, I am very excited that Sam Bennett re-signed with the Calgary Flames for an additional two years.

First off, the contract is a great one for Bennett. He never really lived up to what original expectations we had for him, but along the way he found a new role with the Flames and that’s what I really like about him.

In 2014, the Flames took Bennett fourth overall in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. Bennett played for the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL from 2012 to 2015 and acquired 65 goals and 90 assists for a total 155 points in three years in the league.

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There was some high hopes for Bennett when he was drafted in 2014 after being selected only after Aaaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart and Leon Draisaitl.

As fourth overall, Bennett was selected ahead of William Nylander (#8), Dylan Larkin (#15) and David Pastrnak (#25) – all of which have more points than Bennett over the past few seasons and have signed larger contracts.

Bennett’s recent two-year contract for $2.55 million AAV isn’t the same as Nylander’s six-year deal for a total $45,089,608 million – or Pastrnak’s $6,666,666 million AAV cap hit – and that’s ok.

The 23-year-old forward has shaped a new style of play since joining the Flames for nearly a full season in 2015. He hasn’t taken on the role of goal-scorer or point producer, but now has a more physical presence on the ice.

Bennett only had 27 points in 71 games last season and compared to some of his draft class colleagues, that was fairly low.

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But, I’m happy with Bennett’s potential after finding his new role. Although, he struggled with putting up points on the Flames’ third line last year, he did step up in other ways such as making some big hits and playing the body.

He has become more of a physical player than we had initially thought and I’ve been liking his style of play more and more.

One complaint from many Flames fans was the lack of physicality and intensity in the playoffs. I thought Bennett was one of the only players who stepped up and played with some passion in the first round series. And despite, his lack of points in the regular season, Bennett led the Flames with five points in their short playoff run.

I think Bennett proved his worth by stepping up when the time is right. He has also proven his dedication to the team and that he can play a more gritty role, not only when he’s needed, but throughout the season.

Bennett has easily become one of my favourite Flames’ players, especially after last year – and not just because of the killer mustache.

The Battle of Alberta

Bennett is now coming into his own as Calgary’s resident tough guy. Now, with the addition of Milan Lucic, the Flames have a little more size to help bulk up the roster.

Bennett has made a few large hits and has gotten into a few scraps on behalf of his teammates, which I think is needed on the team.

Sam Bennett picks up for Mark Jankowski by dropping the gloves with Ian Cole.

Although, Bennett didn’t pan out the way everyone thought he would, the Flames recently signing Bennett was a great move. After refining his new role in the lineup last year, I’m excited to see Bennett grow even more over the upcoming season and during the two years of his deal.

As the Flames are likely to make playoffs again, I think Bennett’s playing and growth is a crucial part for this team moving ahead.