Beau Bennett knows what a valuable asset maintaining his health is, more than most NHL players. He has endured surgeries on each wrist, a knee injury, the mumps and several other undisclosed woes throughout his brief three year career. In three seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bennett has only managed to play in 96 games and for those who like statistics, that’s 39% of possible games. It also should be noted that the 2014-15 season was his healthiest campaign as he managed to play in 49 of 82 games.
Heading into this offseason Bennett’s contract was expiring and few knew for sure that he would be back with the Penguins, despite being a restricted free agent. But Pittsburgh still is holding out hope that he can be a productive NHL player and they eventually signed him to a one-year, one-way contract worth $800,000.
It’s not like Bennett doesn’t know that he’s had injury problems. He has removed himself from social media due to the constant bashing he has endured from the Penguins fanbase.
Bennett Is Working To Correct The Problem
There’s a common misconception that Bennett will never amount to anything at the NHL level and this stems from his injury woes. However, he has realized that he is running out chances. Bennett is working with a nutritionist and a new trainer this offseason in hopes to avoid the trainers room next season. At the start of the 2015-16 season, Bennett will have been with the Penguins organization for five years and his sixth could be hist last.
Bennett has flashed potential, wowed spectators and shown an incredible shot, but that is all his performance has been, flashes.
It is also worth noting that the Penguins have broken the mold with his one-year contract. Bennett was a restricted free agent and there was no doubt that if the Penguins wanted him back, he would be back. But what is interesting is that recent players who have been restricted free agents have all received two or three year contract extensions. One of them, Brian Dumoulin, just signed a two-year extension despite having much less NHL experience and being the same age as Bennett.
It’s clear that 2015-16 might be Bennett’s last chance to prove something to the Penguins. There’s a very good reason why he was drafted 20th overall at the 2010 NHL entry draft and that’s because he can score goals. The Penguins need depth players that can score goals and if Bennett can finally stay healthy, he will be exactly what they need. General manager Jim Rutherford wants “four lines that can score” and it’s easily conceivable that he will play on the fourth line.
Regardless of what line he plays on, Bennett needs to play right wing. He’s spent time on the left wing and believes that he can play both sides, but as we’ve seen he’s far more effective on the right than the left. Will Bennett remain healthy this season or will it be another injury plagued year? No one knows, but it’s certain that Bennett is running out of time to prove his worth to the Penguins. The NHL is a “what have you done for me recently” league and Bennett has yet to accomplish much, but he is pretty good at video bombing.
It’s hard to envision a world that 2015-16 isn’t his last chance with the Penguins. Everyone wants to root for Bennett, but he needs to give the fanbase some help by remaining healthy for most of the season. Mr. Bennett, show us what your made of this season.