Player agent Darren Ferris has a busy summer on his hands. As you can imagine, much of his time will be spent dealing with the ongoing Mitch Marner saga in Toronto. But as he deals with that, the free agent market has seemingly done him some favours as the last week or so have provided some very nice comparable signings for Calgary Flames restricted free agent Sam Bennett.
Bennett is 23 years of age. Depending on how his first post-draft season is counted, he has either four or five seasons credited towards unrestricted free agency. He’s played 312 NHL games and has 112 points – a 0.359 points-per-game scoring rate. His last two seasons he had 26 and 27 points, respectively.
The signings of four other RFAs have seemingly set the floor and ceiling, more or less, for Bennett’s negotiations.
The floor was set by the Sabres’ signing of Johan Larsson on July 12. Larsson is a 0.239 points-per-game player over 331 NHL games, including most recently seasons of 17 and 14 points. He’s signed to a one year, $1.55 million contract – Bennett has to make more than that on a short-term deal, and most definitely will.
The ceiling was seemingly set by Boston re-signing Danton Heinen to a two year deal worth $2.8 million annually. Heinen’s a 0.500 points-per-game player, even with significantly less pro games than Bennett, so it would be difficult for the Flames to justify paying him more than Heinen – though an argument can be made, particularly given other recent signings, that Heinen took a bit of a hometown discount.
A pair of signings seem to have set a decent window for Bennett, though. Philadelphia signed Scott Laughton – 0.290 career points per game over 272 NHL games, coming off seasons of 20 and 23 points – for two years at $2.3 million annually. You can argue that Bennett should get more due to slightly more production and experience, but that’s somewhat washed out since Laughton’s a center.
The other is Montreal’s signing of Joel Armia – 0.342 career points per game over 237 NHL games, coming off seasons of 29 and 23 points – for two seasons at $2.6 million annually. Armia’s a winger of similar age, but Bennett’s been more productive. The Armia deal seems to push Bennett into the two years at somewhere between $2.6 million and $2.8 million window, though it’d be tough to justify nudging him higher than Heinen’s deal.
It seems logical to presume that Brad Treliving’s attention is more on negotiations with David Rittich and Matthew Tkachuk, but things seem to be falling into place market-wise to make the Bennett negotiations reasonably straight-forward. Bennett’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for July 27 in Toronto, so the clock is ticking.