Beau Bennett was the Pittsburgh Penguins 1st round pick (20th overall) in the 2010 NHL entry draft. His career has been one of more controversial in recent Penguins history and as of July 1st he will be a restricted free agent.
The oft-injured wing displayed a great scoring touch in his junior and college careers, but he did have injury issues from a young age. However, this did not stop the Penguins from taking a chance on Bennett.
To this point, Beau Bennett has failed to live up to expectations and many consider him to be a bust.
Is Beau Bennett already a bust?
Three seasons, 96 games played, 10 goals, 23 assists, 33 points.
That is all the Penguins have seen from Bennett in his first three years. He’s suffered numerous injuries and simply has not played very consistently.
Every time it seems that Bennett is about to open up the scoring, he either sustains an injury or seemingly disappears.
This past season was no different as Bennett only managed to play in 49 games, granted some of the games he did not play in he was a scratch, but he suffered a couple injuries throughout the year. Even late in the season, Bennett was playing with leg braces on and clearly was playing through pain.
Is Bennett an injury-prone player or just extremely unlucky? The fans believe him to be an injury prone player and he deactivated his Twitter account to avoid the harassment.
What do the Penguins have in Bennett?
Truthfully, no one knows.
Beau Bennett has flashed brilliance and has made fans believe that he could be a top-six wing, but he has not done anything more than that.
Is it far to begin questioning if a 23 year-old wing is a bust? I personally don’t.
He’s only 23 and has a lot of hockey ahead of him (if he can stay healthy). However, the Penguins will not wait forever for him to develop.
General manager Jim Rutherford has accepted some of the blame for Bennett’s struggles, as he should have spent the year in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on a scoring line, instead of a checking line in Pittsburgh.
We made a mistake on Beau Bennett as far as development-wise,” he said. “I’ll take the responsibility for that. When it was getting closer for him to become a waivered player, I felt we should have sent him to Wilkes-Barre and let him play a lot. He’s a guy that hasn’t played enough over the years. So we kept him around that time. He’s not consistent enough, he’s not strong enough, but he’s a very talented player.
He also added that he still believes Bennett will be a “good NHL player” and “I hope it starts next year and not the year after, but at some point in time he’s going to get it.”
Whether or not Rutherford is right will be entirely up to Bennett. He has the talent to be a top-six wing for Pittsburgh, but he needs to take the next step.
Has it been his fault?
While you can argue that a lot of the blame is on Bennett for his lack of production, but it’s not entirely his fault. As Rutherford already took blame for, Beau should have been in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton playing in their top-six instead of Pittsburgh’s bottom-six.
The idea that a 6’2″ 195 lb sniper can completely alter the way he plays hockey is quite a tall task. Bennett is a lanky forward who is at his best when he’s with talented players and in the offensive zone.
It’s no surprise that he has faltered in the bottom-six because he’s not suited for that role. He’s not big enough, not physical enough and most importantly, not strong enough to be a checking forward.
In the small amount of time head coach Mike Johnston gave Bennett in the top-six, Bennett looked comfortable and was playing well.
Particularly, he seems to play exceptionally well alongside star center Evgeni Malkin. In 94:51 with Malkin, the Penguins Corsi for percentage was 59.5%.
Beau Bennett needs a legitimate shot in the top-six and most importantly, Johnston should not panic. The Penguins have developed a reputation of overreacting to streaks by young players.
Bennett played well in the top-six for a few games and then had a bad couple periods and the Penguins demoted him to the third or fourth line.
It’s too early to say that Beau Bennett is a bust, but more importantly, he needs to be set up for success by giving him better linemates than Brandon Sutter, Steve Downie and Nick Spaling.
Could the Penguins obtain a wing with Bennett’s upside for around $1 million? I doubt it and that’s why Bennett will be back with the Penguins next season. He needs to come into training camp and work hardest to get a chance for top-six minutes.
Michael Pityk is an analyst who has written for numerous sites since beginning his professional career. He’s acted as a credentialed member of the media for the Philadelphia Phillies, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Pirates and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His work has been featured in Sports Illustrated, The Sports Journal, MSN, PensLabyrinth, Montreal Hockey Talk, ESPN Pittsburgh, The Hockey Writers, Todays SlapShot and The Bleacher Report. He formerly was the editor of Pens Labyrinth and an analyst for The Sports Journal. Michael presently acts as an NHL Analyst for The Hockey Writers