The Calgary Flames have begun to move out some of the disappointing core, working on a trade that will send Sam Bennett to the Florida Panthers according to several reports including Chris Johnston of Sportsnet. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the Flames will receive a 2022 second-round pick and prospect Emil Heineman. Florida will also get a 2022 sixth-round pick.
Bennett, 24, was the fourth overall pick in 2014, the same draft the Panthers took Aaron Ekblad first. The grinding forward just hasn’t been able to turn himself into any sort of an offensive player, scoring just 140 points in 402 career games. This year he has four goals and 12 points in 38 games, just not anywhere near effective enough to stick around in Calgary’s long-term plans.
The interesting thing with Bennett is that almost every time the Flames have taken the ice in the postseason, he has been one of the most effective players in the game. In 30 career playoff games he has 11 goals and 19 points while racking up a whopping 107 hits, and 71 shots on goal. If Bennett could find a way to bring that level of play to every night of the regular season, he could be a huge presence in the Florida lineup.
At this point though, it’s surprising that the Flames landed even a second-round pick for Bennett, let alone a prospect as well. Heineman isn’t one to overlook either; he was selected 43rd overall in 2020 and is coming off an impressive season in the SHL as a teenager. Heineman hasn’t signed his entry-level contract yet, but he’s a nice prospect to add to the cupboard for Calgary.
Florida is obviously betting that they can turn Bennett’s career around, but they also have to deal with a contract negotiation this summer. The 24-year-old will be an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent at the end of the year and will need a $2.55MM qualifying offer from the team.
It’s that playoff production that the Panthers are likely betting on, as Florida has their sights set on really contending for the Stanley Cup this season. Even if Bennett can just give them a boost in this year’s postseason he would be a worthy rental, if an expensive one.