The Calgary Flames have no shortage of options when it comes to top-prospect Sam Bennett.
Bennett, 18, was Calgary’s first-round pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and he’s only recently been cleared for contact following labrum surgery in mid-October. While the skilled pivot lost nearly a full season of development time as a result of his ailment, he’ll at least get to play some high-level competitive hockey this spring.
What’s unclear is whether or not he’ll be competing in the NHL, the AHL, or the OHL. The decision will reportedly be made this week, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, and the most likely outcome is that Bennett will be returned to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs.
Here are McKenzie’s comments on the decision facing the Flames and their timeline for making it, from Thursday night’s edition of Insider Trading:
Over the next day or two expect the Flames’ management team to get together to decide the fate of where (Bennett) is going to play the balance of the season. The expectation at this point is that he’ll be going back to Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League, but that decision has not been made finally just yet.
And they want to make sure they get the input from everybody in the organization before they make that call. Could technically go to the American Hockey League on a conditioning stint, could technically play a game in the NHL, but the likely scenario is that he’s more than likely headed to junior.
That the Flames seem to want to play it safe with their most valuable prospect seems sensible.
While it would be interesting (not to mention fun!) to see what Bennett could do at the professional level, he’s 180 pounds and is coming off of major shoulder surgery. Throwing him, cold, into the mix against men a decade older than him would be playing with fire.