NHL Insider Reports Maple Leafs Have Interest in Sam Bennett

With Sam Bennett currently out of the Calgary Flames lineup, speculation is at an all-time high that the forward might be moved in a trade. As per Bennett’s agent, (the infamous) Darren Ferris, talk last week was that the forward was unhappy with the Flames and would like a change of scenery. Follow up reports suggested Bennett had not communicated his dissatisfaction with the coach or team management, so the player and the team proceeded like it was business as usual.

Thursday night, after Bennett was playing well and got some time on a top offensive line, he was mysteriously pulled from the lineup and made a healthy scratch. Flames’ head coach Geoff Ward didn’t offer an explanation as to why, other than to suggest it was just something he had decided to do.

Realizing this was going to stir the pot, during the most recent TSN Insider Trading segment, Darren Dreger noted that pulling Bennett from the lineup didn’t mean a trade was pending. What the NHL insider did say was that there was a “good amount of interest at this stage.”

Among those interested, Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston named the Toronto Maple Leafs.

News of the Maple Leafs Interest Is… Interesting

During today’s edition of Hockey Central, Johnston came on and said he believes a trade is certainly possible and agreed with Dreger when he said teams are interested. He also acknowledge that a trade isn’t imminent but the longer Bennett stays out of the lineup, the more teams will wonder what the status of the forward is.

Oscar Fantenberg, Richard Bachman, Sam Bennett
Vancouver Canucks goalie Richard Bachman looks past as teammate Oscar Fantenberg checks Calgary Flames’ Sam Bennett (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Then he added:

I think even the Leafs have some level of interest in Sam Bennett. I don’t know if they have the right piece to send back that would make that kind of trade palatable, but there are teams out there kicking tires naturally on a 24-year-old player.

Johnston noted Bennett’s inconsistencies and pointed out that those inconsistencies have plagued him throughout his career. Still, the player has had some pretty outstanding playoff performances for the Flames and that could be appealing to many teams, including a team like the Maple Leafs.

Toronto is playing well this season and if they continue to do so, the organization should waltz their way into a playoff spot in the North Division. With little playoff success to speak of over the past many years, having someone known to pick up his game when the postseason rolls around could be attractive.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Spezza, Matthews, Marner, Tavares & More

What Is the Price to Acquire Bennett?

Johnston added that it could be the acquisition price that determines how interested teams will be. Do the Maple Leafs have the pieces needed to get the deal done? Early reports are that the Flames want full value for Bennett if he’s going to be moved, but there is little in the way of reports about what that means.

Travis Dermott Toronto Maple Leafs
Travis Dermott, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Rumors hint that defenseman Travis Dermott could be a piece the Leafs are willing to sacrifice. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Saturday Headlines not that long ago that the Maple Leafs might be looking to acquire another forward, one that could step into the team’s top nine. Jonas Siegel of The Athletic noted that Dermott makes sense.

Siegel wrote:

Travis Dermott feels like the likeliest candidate to move. He’s averaged just over 11 minutes per game so far this season with no power play or penalty killing opportunity. Rasmus Sandin could slide easily into those minutes. Maybe Mikko Lehtonen can as well.

source – ‘Monday Morning Leafs Report: Auston Matthews’ injury concern and a trade thought’ – Jonas Siegel – The Athletic – 01/25/2021

The question is, does a trade that focuses on Dermott as the centerpiece for Bennett work for both sides? The Flames could potentially use a defenseman but there’s a pretty big discrepancy in salary between the two players. Dermott makes $1.67 million less and the Leafs don’t exactly have the cap space to do anything beyond a dollar-in, dollar-out deal.

There are going to be a number of teams discussed when it comes to Bennett and it makes sense that, so far, most of the teams are Canadian. As far as the Leafs go, it’s probably best to chalk this up to not much more than GM Kyle Dubas potentially kicking tires, assuming he’s even called.

If Bennett continues to be scratched, expect the trade chatter to get louder. Will the Leafs be involved? It will be worth watching closely.

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