The Florida Panthers are the holders of the #1 overall selection in this year NHL entry draft and while this draft isn’t as deep or star studded as past years, there are still some players the Cats could definitely use. Lets take a look at the top 5 prospects in this years draft according to the scouting service ISS Hockey and see what they could bring to the Panthers. In the fourth slot we have the speedy Sam Bennett. Lets take a look at his career so far.
Arguably the most dynamic forward in this years draft is Kingston Frontenacs center/left winger Sam Bennett. Bennett was selected 9th overall in 2012 by Kingston and in his rookie season he tallied 18 goals and assisted on 22 which was enough for him to be selected to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team. Bennett’s second season put him on the map as he scored 36 times and added 55 assists. Since the rankings have been released Bennett has shifted from the best prospect to where he stands now as the fourth best prospect and much of this has to do with some discipline problems. Bennett was suspended indefinitely by the OHL but eventually this turned into a five game suspension for a high sticking penalty he received when playing against the Peterborough Petes’. Eliteprospects.com says “Bennett is an energetic, skilled winger who is quick on his feet and has deceptive speed. He generates chances with his quickness, awareness and constant effort. He’s not flashy, but energetic and does possess an excellent release.”
- Why he would fit: Bennett has a shoot first mentality and in my mind is the best shooter/sniper in this years draft. He would spark the Cats dismal offense and in my mind is the best forward in this years draft. He is also a versitile player as he can play both Center and Left Wing, so if we get hit with the injury bug he can fill in either position. I think that if the Panthers are to select a forward first overall, Bennett should be their guy. His offensive ability is elite and he has drawn comparisons to San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski, and Detroit Red Wings Forward Pavel Datsyuk. Bennett also loves to hit and in my opinion, besides Gudbranson, Jovonavski, Bergenheim, Barch, and Upshall we really don’t have a physical team that can wear the opposition down. Bennett’s game has multiple dimensions and he definitely is my forward of choice for the Panthers to draft if they select to go offense.
Panthers Forward Depth ChartLeft WingersCentersRight Wingers
Sean Bergenheim Aleksander Barkov Brad Boyes Jonathan Huberdeau Nick Bjugstad Scottie Upshall Tomas Fleischmann Vincent Trocheck Tomas Kopecky Quinton Howden Drew Shore Bobby Butler Joey Crabb
- Why he wouldn’t fit: Bennett can be undisciplined at times and was suspended indefinitely at one point in time by the OHL for a very blatant high-sticking penalty he took. Bennett also spent the majority of the season playing center which is a position the Cats don’t need much help with, but he did play left wing at times. If the Panthers draft him hopefully he doesn’t have trouble adjusting to playing the wing full time. He also spent only two seasons in the OHL so he may not be as NHL ready as a Sam Reinhart or Aaron Ekblad but I still believe he will be a very good player for whoever he suits up for.
What are your thoughts on Bennett? Should the Cats take him 1st overall? Let us know in the comments section and check back here for all of your Florida Panthers news. Follow @FANSIDEDTHERAT