2014 NHL Draft Profile #3: Sam Bennett

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Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players.  Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2014 NHL Draft.  Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports!  Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2014 Draft Articles Click here.

Sam Bennett has steadily risen NHL draft boards all season.  Some would even say that the Kingston Frontenacs centre has taken off like a rocket this year.  He led the Kingston Frontenacs with 91 points in 57 games including an extremely long scoring streak this year.  Unfortunately his Frontenacs blew a 3-0 series lead in their first round series with Peterborough, and are now eliminated way earlier than expected in the OHL Playoffs.  You can’t really pin that on Bennett though, as he did his part with five goals and nine points in the series.  Bennett is expected to be invited to joint Team Canada for the Under 18 World Championships now, a tournament where he scored seven points in seven games and won a gold medal last year.  He also won gold at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament.

Earlier this year LWOS had the opportunity to interview Sam Bennett.  You can read that interview here.

Sam Bennett
Centre — shoots Left
Born Jun 20 1996 — Toronto, ONT
Height 6.00 — Weight 181 [183 cm/82 kg]

Slightly undersized, Sam Bennett is extremely thin and needs to put on weight before he will be able to play his game in the NHL.  Still that size hasn’t slowed Bennett down as he has excellent hockey sense, and always seems to be in the right place, and make the right play. He finds holes in the defence and can get open. With the puck on his stick he is a deadly playmaker as he has the vision to find open teammates, and the passing skills to make tape-to-tape passes to create scoring chances. He is a hard worker who will work on the cycle game and can protect the puck well. This will only get better as he adds muscle. Bennett can also score goals with good hands in tight, and an excellent release on his wrist shot.

Good skating, and excellent agility and acceleration make Bennett a menace off the rush, or in cycling the puck as he seems to slip by defenders who can’t keep up with him when he quickly changes speeds. Bennett has an extremely good first step, and when Bennett drops his shoulder and decides to take off, he can quickly separate from defenders. He has good balance on his skates and is tough to knock off the puck. Again this is an area that will improve with more strength.

A hard-worker, Bennett is fearless, and always involved in the corners, in front of the net and at the middle of the after the whistle scrums. He shows this work-ethic in the defensive zone where he is willing to use his body along the boards, to block shots, to support his defensemen in their own zone.

Quite simply Bennett has the potential to be a franchise forward. He can do it all at both ends of the ice and will bring everything that teams look for. Due to the need to pack on some muscle he might not be as NHL ready as my first two ranked players, but he will be worth the wait. His style, not potential, is similar to his general manager in Kingston, Hockey Hall of Famer, Doug Gilmour.

One Anonymous NHL Scout said: “He’s  a magician with the puck.  The best forward prospect in the OHL right now, and one of the best in the world.  If he is not picked in the top three, I will be very surprised.”

 

Here are some highlights:

Check back tomorrow for my number 4 ranked prospect.

 

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