I'm sure you've heard all the rumours and speculation surrounding Sam Bennetts future with the Calgary Flames. ICYMI Taranjot Vining aka Straight Outta Calgary went over the whole situation a few days ago.
While views towards #93 is very mixed within the fanbase, and the whole requesting a trade ordeal is quite complicated. His name is certainly floating around the trade rumour universe.
A lot of us saw top 6 Sam last night and immediately got excited. Maybe by an eye test he looked good, but once Sam got moved with 13 and 23 their success as pointed out by Karim Kurji was very abysmal.
So today I'm going to do a little speculation as to where the Flames may look to trade Sam, and what a reasonable return may look like.
If you ask Bennett stans, his value is much higher than what other GMs in the NHL percieve.
Over the last 3 seasons Sam has been really below average. His xGAR compared to his actual GAR suggests hes actually decent at creating scoring chances. But that finishing ability and hands he displayed in Junior as well as Rookie year have really dissapated. No player gets bad bounces forever, and at some point you have to realize that he may not ever live up to that 4th overall pedigree he came with.
On that point, Bennett is a former top 5 pick and is only 24 years old. With an expiring contract three criteria will most likely have to be filled by any potential trade partner.
With an expansion draft looming, a team won't be giving up assets unless they can either protect him, or are looking at him as a pure rental.
With a flat cap, any team looking to acquire Sam will need to have/create the cap space to attain him.
Any team gunning for Bennett is probably certain that his style of play will fit their system better than the one Geoff Ward runs out in Cow Town.
So who fits this criteria? There are 3 potential destinations I could see for Sam Bennett.
Boston Bruins - Ondrej Kase
Ondrej Kase was taken in the 7th round of the 2014 draft by the Anaheim Ducks. After being dealt to the Bruins last year. Kase saw limited oppurtunity and has bounced around the lineup.
Boston acquired Kase in a cap dump of David Backes contract as well as a 1st round pick and a high end defensive prospect.
This would basically be like the Flames packaging Lucic with a 1st round pick and Oliver Kylington to acquire Ondrej Kase. Certainly the price was only that high for Boston due to the cap dump, but it certainly speaks to how high they were on the player.
However his value has gone down somewhat, and If the Flames were to try and flip Bennett for Kase the price would probably be an additional high pick (2nd round) and potentially a B prospect like Ruczika, Phillips, or Zavgordiny.
While this seems like a lot for a guy whos top season came in 2017-18 when he scored 38 points in 66 games. He would certianly be a significant upgrade to the Flames top 9.
Ondrej Kase is significantly better at both ends of the ice in comparison to Bennett. According to Black n Gold Hockey Boston would have both the cap space and expansion draft affordance to acquire Bennett.
Furthermore, Bennetts prime junior years came in the black and gold with the Kingston Frontenacs, and he certainly would fit the hard nosed physical hockey that the Bruins love to play.
If the Flames were to pay this price for Kase he would certainly have to be protected in the expansion draft. This would mean the Flames would have to expose one of Backlund, Mangiapane or Dube and I would place money that the Seattle Kraken wouldn't be to eager to take on the contract of Mikael Backlund (see ya later Kylington :/).
Ottawa Senators - Erik Brannstrom
Senators fans would most likely curl up into a ball if the main piece of the Mark Stone trade gets dealt already.
However, reports out of Ottawa suggest head coach D.J Smith "isn't to keen on Brannstrom".
At this point Pierre Dorion might be eager to capitalize on the defencemans value instead of having him sit in the press box over and over again.
Byron Baders model is all over the young Swedish Defenceman,. and we know how Calgary loves their Swedes.
Baders model seriously praises Brannstrom, and the Left shooting defenceman has expressed interest in playing on his offside as well.
With all this in tow, Brannstrom would certainly come with a large price tage.
He is not expansion draft eligible and Dorion would certainly want to get something big out of his main piece from the Mark Stone trade.
If the Flames were to acquire him in a Sam Bennett centred trade, Bennett would most likely not be the biggest piece leaving Calgary. I'd expect Dorion to ask for the Flames 1st round pick, one or two B prospects that would be able to reach the Senators line up immediately (Gawdin, Phillips, Kylington) at the least. As well as maybe another future pick or a roster player like Nikita Nesterov.
This is a trade I would absolutely pursue if I was Brad Treliving (I wish I was) ,but the fact remains that one of the Senators prized prospects is not being regarded that highly by the Inner brass of the Ottawa organization, so sending Dorion a call might not be the worst idea in the world.
Vancouver Canucks - Jake Virtanen
I am not a huge fan of this idea. However the fact remains that both the Canucks and Flames have a struggling young player who comes from a high pedigree.
Virtanen really isn't an upgrade on Bennett. But the idea of Bennett benefiting from a change of scenery goes the same way for JV.
If this were to happen it would probably be a one for one swap. Not ideal for both GMs who drafted these players, but both players probably aren't in line for a big uptick in production in their current scenarios.
Whats the Realistic Scenario Here?
There's enough speculation around Bennetts name that GMs will be calling. I would guess that If Treliving doesn't think he can get a better player today, then he will do one of two things.
Trade for a 2nd or 3rd round pick
If Bennett actually wants out, Brad may try and just capitalize on the value he has around the deadline this year. There is also the issue of trading for a roster player from a team in the States due to quarantine rules, so pulling players in at the deadline isn't necessarily the smartest move for a Canadian team.
While Bennetts regular season performance is pretty rough. He is a player that thrives in post-season play. Letting him stick around for the chance at andextended playoff run isn't the worst idea in the world. At the same time he will probably end up getting claimed by Seattle. So unless something drastic changes in the next few months, don't expect to see Bennett in the Flaming C next season.
I would rank the possible options listed as so:
Keep him as a "rental"
Trade for a 2nd/3rd round pick
Swap for JV.
Let me know what you think the Flames should do with Sam Bennett in the comments.