It’s been just under seven years since Brad Treliving made his first selection as Calgary Flames general manager at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia when he picked Sam Bennett from the Kingston Frontenacs. At the time, scouts were high on Bennett, and many projected him to be a franchise center. Now in his sixth season with the Flames, it has become clear that he may never live up to the hype.
Right before the NHL’s trade deadline hit zero on Monday, the Flames traded Bennett to the Florida Panthers for a 2022 second-round pick and Swedish prospect Emil Heineman. Bennett was on an expiring contract and although he will be a restricted free agent, it seems the Flames were unwilling to qualify him at the end of this season. Treliving received great value for the struggling forward.
Sam Bennett’s Career
After it got out that Bennett couldn’t do one pull-up at the combine, the team announced that he had a torn labrum in his shoulder and spent most of the 2014-15 season rehabbing the injury after surgery. He returned to the Frontenancs in the OHL for a short 11-game stint near the end of the season and scored 24 points. That performance earned him a call-up to the big league, where he played one regular-season game with one assist and 11 playoff games scoring three goals and an assist.
Bennett had a solid start to his rookie season in 2015-16, scoring 18 goals and 36 points in 77 games, which was good for 11th in rookie scoring. It seemed the first step in what might have been a good career in Calgary, but the following seasons didn’t follow suit.
In his next three seasons, he recorded just 79 points in 234 games while bouncing throughout the lineup. In his final two campaigns with the team, he managed just 24 points in 96 games. He now joins the Panthers for that fresh start he was hoping for at the beginning of the season.
Swedish Prospect Emil Heineman
Heineman was drafted in the second round (43rd overall) in the 2020 NHL Draft and has been playing in the Swedish Hockey League for Leksands IF. In 43 games, he has seven goals and 13 assists, which isn’t outstanding, but his style of play should translate well to the NHL. The left-winger is a speedy, hardworking, and unrelenting forechecker who is already a pain to play against in the SHL. He has the ability to become a useful bottom-six player in the NHL (from, ‘Florida Panthers acquire Sam Bennett, 6th-round pick from Calgary Flames for Emil Heineman, 2nd-round pick,’ EP Rinkside, 12/04/21).
The Flames should be happy to walk away with a 19-year-old prospect who still has a decent amount of runway to develop his game. Next season, they will have the option of letting him stay in his hometown or bringing him over to North America to join the young group of prospects playing for the Stockton Heat in the AHL. On top of an intriguing prospect, the team also walked away with a pick within the top 64 in 2022.
Flames Add More Picks
After a Sunday night trade that sent David Rittich to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2022 third-round pick, the team collected another in the Bennett trade with a 2022 second-round pick. The Flames have had success in the second round as Dillon Dube, Rasmus Andersson, and Oliver Kylington were all selected in round two. However, the team’s prospect pipeline has dried up now that those players have all graduated to the big club.
The Flames now have nine picks in the first three rounds in the next two drafts, which should help restock the cupboard. Their scouts will need to do their homework to get the most value from those picks since, in recent years, the team has traded away draft picks to bring in NHL talent for the team to be competitive. It is a much-needed change of pace to add prospects for the future.
Bennett Gets His Wish
If it wasn’t clear before, we know now that Bennett wasn’t going to work out in Calgary. The team’s highest-ever draft pick was unable to live up to expectations, though he became an everyday NHLer if that’s any sort of silver lining. The Panthers were interested enough to see what he might bring to the table as they paid a high price and may be able to turn him into something more. After a tremendously disappointing season, when Bennett’s stock was at its lowest, Treliving managed to get a small win at the deadline.