Beau Bennett is poised on the brink of yet another comeback.
He’s been injured seemingly more than he’s been healthy, and one has to wonder how much his development has been hampered by this run of bad luck. Now that he has signed a one-year, $800k deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins; all hopes return to Bennett having an injury-free season.
It’s the elephant in the room: Can he stay healthy?
Bennett has played in only 93 NHL regular-season games over his three years. This past season was his most productive in terms of games played with 49, so it’s a new upward trend that the team and its fans can be optimistic about. However, this wouldn’t be the first time that Bennett had optimism surrounding his return. This will now be the third time he has had to attempt a comeback in his young career.
After being drafted 20th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, Bennett decided to attend the University of Denver; where he missed six weeks his freshman year with a knee injury. The following year, he missed all but 10 games and needed surgery on his wrist.
Coming off of this lost season, Bennett signed his entry level contract; forgoing his final two NCAA years for a chance to make the Pens roster, even perhaps become that #WingerForSid the franchise has been waiting for. Bennett played 26 games for the Pens that first season (and played 39 in Wilkes-Barre before that), so he was generally healthy. It seems, however, that dark clouds follow this man; reared on California sunshine.
He played in only 21 games during his second NHL year, suffering a lower-body injury then a wrist injury. This past season didn’t begin for him until November, when he was able to put the wrist injury behind him. A few games later, a knee injury once again forced him to miss time.
Then he got the mumps.
It feels like not since the Biblical tale of Job that we have seen such rotten luck. Get the man a horseshoe, a rabbit’s foot or douse him in leprechaun blood – the universe needs to just cut the kid some slack.
Break the Cycle
If there was ever a time for Bennett to break his streak of breaking down, this would be it. The Pens are rife with opportunity. There are open spots on the third and fourth lines that could really use a player with some offensive upside. The downside to placing Bennett in one of these “grittier” roles is that it puts him at greater risk of injury.
Granted, you can’t play a player based on his ability to stay healthy, but it should temper expectations.
At this point, Bennett’s best bet is to just focus on what he can control on the ice; taking steps towards not only keeping his roster spot, but earning a new, long-term deal.
Lee is a contributor here at The Hockey Writers as well as at Pens Initiative. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, he worked an internship at VH1 Radio in NYC and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Penn State – New Kensington campus student newspaper, The Nittany Pride. You can visit Lee’s website here: leecjsobotka.com.