The funniest thing to come out of the Draft Combine was the news that Sam Bennett couldn’t do a single pull-up. Behind him in the above photo are scouts who have a) can probably not do a pull-up either and b) didn’t score nearly two points per game in the OHL during their draft seasons. I don’t know why it is scouts even have prospects do pull-ups as part of their physical evaluations, but I really, really hope that at least one team passes on him because of it, and then Bennett scores a hat-trick on them when he’s still on his entry-level deal.
SAM BENNETT – Kingston (OHL)
Weight: 181 lbs
Birthdate: June 20 1996
No alarm bells immediately go off here. Bennett’s not much older than his draft class (he’s on the younger side, actually) nor is he too small or too big. He plays that all-important centre position, between two players who aren’t standalone prospects or overage players inflating Bennett’s numbers. In fact, he spent a lot of time with Spencer Watson this season, another prospect with point-a-game statistics, who is probably going to be picked thanks to his synergy with Bennett.
When the midterm and final CSS rankings were announced, a lot of people took for granted that the two players expected to be up there, Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart, weren’t jostling for first place. Instead, it was the Kingston Frontenac Bennett, on the heels of a second consecutive fantastic season relative to his age group.
It’s not like the Fronts were a very good team last season, with or without Bennett. After Bennett’s 91 points in 57 games, the next closest player was Henri Ikonen, a Bolts prospect who suited up for Finland at the World Juniors. Bennett was left off the U-18 roster due to maintenance reasons at the end of his season (the Fronts blew a 3-0 series lead to Peterborough. Bennett led the series with 9 points) so he doesn’t have that stretch of international dominance to point to, but he’s a great prospect for lots of reasons.
The scouting report says “generates chances with his quickness, awareness and constant effort” and is “not flashy” which is part of the reason I don’t see a big chance Bennett goes to the Canucks at all. If they trade up, they’re doing so with visions of local boy Reinhart in mind, and not a mere Ontario player who probably surprised a lot of people by being on top of the Central Scouting lists. He’s also not going to drop too far in this draft—he’s just that good a player coming off a superb season.
Here’s Bennett’s highlight video. Some of these passes are ridiculous, but what I kind of like is that Bennett’s not going to try to stickhandle through a phone booth (even though he can) when a passing option exists: