Last month, some eyebrows were raised when Flames forward Sam Bennett’s trade request became public through comments from his agent Darren Ferris. Calgary GM Brad Treliving decided to comment on the matter on Friday in an interview with Sportsnet 960 (audio link):
A few weeks ago, I think we all saw, Sam’s agent decided to have a conversion with the media in talking about changes of scenery and all that. We’ll determine, whether it be Sam Bennett or anybody else, what their scenery is and when it’s going to change.
Until such time, Sam is a member of the Calgary Flames. He’s like every other member of the Calgary Flames. We think Sam is a hell of a player and we expect him to be a real good player here, and we’ll go from there.
It has been somewhat of a rocky six seasons in Calgary for the 2014 fourth-overall pick. His offensive game hasn’t improved much over the years with his most productive campaign coming in his rookie year when he had 18 goals and 18 assists, more than respectable numbers as a junior-aged player. However, he hasn’t had more than 27 points in a single season since then.
But when the playoffs have come around, Bennett has been a much bigger contributor. He had five goals in 10 games in the bubble last summer to lead the team while also chipping in with 54 hits. Power forwards are hard to come by and his playoff performances keep earning him extra chances with the Flames.
Unfortunately for both him and the team, he hasn’t been able to bring that same level of performance to the regular season. He has just two goals and an assist this season despite spending time both at center and on the wing, at times as high as the top line. He was made a healthy scratch not long after his trade request and wound up sitting for the entire third period last night with head coach Geoff Ward not pleased about his performance.
While Treliving is understandably displeased that Bennett’s trade request went public (especially after not informing the team of it first), this could soon be a situation where a move winds up being best for both sides. Bennett is in the final year of a two-year, $5.1MM deal and is owed a $2.55MM qualifying offer this summer to retain his RFA rights. If he continues to struggle offensively, it would be a risk to qualify him and give him arbitration eligibility while working out a deal to avoid that seems unlikely given the trade request. There’s still time for him to turn things around before the April 12th trade deadline but Bennett is going to be at the forefront of trade speculation for a while yet regardless of Treliving’s comments.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.