It was never a question of if Samuel Bennett would a first-round selection, but rather when. The Calgary Flames have answered that quandary, after selecting the forward prospect with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.
Bennett, 17, emerged as the No. 1 ranked prospect in this year's class after the publication of the ISS' mid-term evaluation. The field was ripe with competitors, including center Sam Reinhart and defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who was often discussed in concert with Bennett for the distinction of top-prospect. Bennett maintained that distinction after the ISS ranked him as the No. 1 North American skater in its final rankings (Ekblad was ranked No. 2 followed by Reinhart at No. 3).
Listed at 6'0, 181 lbs, Bennett still has room to grow in terms of his strength. This was made evident by his inability to complete a single pull-up during the draft combine. While this might appear to be a concerning flaw for the draft's top-ranked player, some view this as a sign of Bennett's potential.
He accumulated 91 points (36 goals and 55 assists) in 57 games as a member of the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League last season. That total doubled the 40 points (18 goals and 22 assists) he registered the year before. If Bennett is able to produce those kinds of totals now, imagine the kind of production he'll be capable of under the tutelage of a professional strength and nutrition program. While some might get caught up in where Bennett is now, those looking to his future see a player ready to be molded.
The left-handed shooting forward spent time at center and left-wing and is praised for his offensive skill, via the ISS:
A magician with the puck who always brings creativity on offence. As equally adept at scoring goals as he is at passing the puck. A well-rounded talent on offence with many weapons in his arsenal. Can play either on the perimeter or around the net thanks to his evasiveness and unpredictability with the puck. Deceptively quick release and strong wrist-shot. Boasts a full repertoire of skills in all areas of the game. Possesses explosive speed with the puck and loves to attack the net. Very shifty & elusive skating ability that allows him to transition in no-time and get to open ice. Have really liked this player for a number of years. Needs to add more strength, but always plays with a mean edge and never backs down physically.
Bennett has represented Canada on three occasions and finished as a point-per game player during the 2013-14 U18 World Junior Championship (three goals and four assists).