70Sam Bennett
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Comparables are emerging for Sam Bennett’s next contract

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.

    • Kevin R

      Benny & his agent would never take 5 years at that amount, but push that up to the 3.2 range & I bet Tre may be able to get 5 years out of him. That in my humble opinion would be a steal for this kid. Benny in my view is a top drawer 3rd line player & at his age, I dont see any regression but he possibly could still achieve a 2nd line level & at 3.2 mill that would be a steal for a 2nd forward.

    • Hockeysense9393

      Garry you are absolutely on the right track. 5 years minimum with preferably 8 years said and done (with first 5 years NTC). I’ll admit that I am a big fan of Bennett’s and have followed his career for the better part of 2 years before the Flames even drafted him. I think he was supposed to be a phenom out of Juniors and have his career take off from day 1. I believe that most of the league and trend setters thought the same, especially with the point that he was labeled as the #1 pick (for basically the whole year) of his draft class. There was something wrong with him though and we all seen it during the combine. He couldn’t do one chin up? I would think this ailment affected all of his physical tests.
      He still held the #1 distinction and was drafted #4.

      Of course the truth came out and the Flames insisted that he went under the knife, looooong after he should have. The kid played pretty much a whole season with a screwed up shoulder and still led the draft pack the whole way. This brings me to the thinking that Bennett’s initial injury and surgery (that took over 6 months to heal) that he put off and hid, because of his draft year…may have affected his career.
      That’s just my observation…

      Anyways, my original point….(haha)
      Through the many years of being a Flames fan, I obviously purchased many different jersey’s of favorite players. This actually became a bad trend for me, because it seemed that every time I would get a jersey, that certain player would be traded. I would buy a jersey and within a calendar year that player would be gone. It happened with Vernon, Fleury, Titov, Phaneuf, and even Iggy (I think there is a couple more too). You get gun shy after awhile lol. Just to say…my last purchase was Jagr, because I knew he was safe.
      I’ve been a Bennett fan from day one, so I have been also hesitant. I have his jersey that I bought the day he was drafted, except it doesn’t have his numbers sewn on. It’s like a lay-away plan in waiting.

      I don’t care that he hasn’t become the player he was billed to be, he is still becoming the “type” of player that I expected him to be. Sign that long term contract so that I can where my Bennett jersey already!!

      • Jumping Jack Flash

        I may have missed this, but I was reading an article on Dan Quinn and learned that Gary Roberts showed up for his first training camp and was unable to do it one pull up. As many know Roberts is one of the fitness training gurus to the stars.

    • Hockeysense9393

      Tell you the truth I don’t thin this is a factor. Bad blood? Sure it happens some, but this is a business and more so with the players coming up. 50/50 business…and I’m paid to play. Nobody cares what the other makes other then how it may effect your pay. I don’t think Tkachuk gives it a second thought on what Neal is making, other then “good on you”. There is no bad blood anymore with these new athletes. Both teams and players know the business.

      Pulljarvi is a good example. Nothing personal….just business. “I would be better off somewhere else, and eventually you are going to accommodate me.”

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Staying on the soapbox, we have done a poor job of graduating our goalies. Now drafting is only partially to blame. Injuries to Gillies and Parsons has derailed their lofty trajectories. But at some point the organization is going to have to take a chance on a prospect. How many Binnington’s have been passed over because of lack of patience. Gillies appears to be on a short leash without given an opportunity.

    If we were to base promotion solely on AHL numbers then maybe our goalies don’t deserve to be promoted. However, when you factor in that these goalies play behind an ECHL caliber defence for a bubble team then maybe it is not so cut and dry. A perfect example of a team taking a flyer on a goalie is Philadelphia with Hart. Someone in the organization pushed to promote Hart despite his average AHL numbers. I feel Parson’s is a goalie that needs the stability of the NHL to maximize his potential.

    When we look at the list of Flames failed goalie prospects not many of them played 50 NHL games before the organization gave up on them. Perhaps it is time to shift the paradigm on how we develop goalies because we clearly do not have a successful blueprint.

        • Jumping Jack Flash

          Bingo…but it is not just late bloomers that have excelled outside of our organization. It is being able to recognize when the window is open for the player, not painting all goalies with the same brush. The general consensus is that goalies develop at a slower rate than other positional players.

          When the Flyers moved Hart up to earn the starting position they bucked the trend. They showed confidence in Hart and pushed his development timetable ahead of older more seasoned goalies.

          Given Parsons struggles and the fact that he was drafted the same year as Hart and the second goalie in the draft why does he need a couple more years? He will likely be better in the NHL given the Flames support system and quality of team he would be back stopping. The current system does not allow for Gillies or Parsons to win a spot on the Flames regardless of their training camp Ora hot start in the AHL.

  • Skylardog

    How about Tkachuk and Hanifin for Hall And Severson. Hall is at $6.0M this season for this year.

    Solves the cap issues for this season, allows us to wait to trade Frolik until the TDL, and Hall becomes signable next season at $10M when Stone ($3.5), Brodie ($4.65 or he could still go now), Hamonic ($3.87), and Czar ($1.25) all come due. Means we could likely keep Hamonic and get Andersson signed.

    • drogon

      I doubt Ownership will ever move Tkachuk. With Valimaki, they are untouchables, perfect. They’re the building blocks of a new foundation, marketable, good people, will bring revenue in. New arena’s coming and they’re big part of a good selling product.
      If Taylor Hall, who’s a well known commodity to BT & BP, expressed interest, this is a gift for BT, as we can finally move Gaudreau, 2 years ahead of the plan.
      However, I’ve read a few times that Taylor Hall’s attitude can be a problem…

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    There has been a lot of speculation over the years about Bennett asking for a trade. Part of me believes Bennett sees himself as a top 6 player and won’t accept anything less. It is funny that some articles spoke of Braydon Point as a comparable to Sam Bennett in the his draft. That was the ceiling we hoped for.

    I would like to see the team move Sam back to Center and Janko to left wing then and only then will I be fine with moving either one of these players. To me it comes down to opportunity. Bennett has had some chances to play with elite players while Janko did not do much to earn a chance. I think we need to find a spot for Bennett and Neal in the top 6 but it needs to be earned.

    Finally if the Flames are dead set on drafting small skilled players, and it appears that this is indeed the case, we need big bruising mobile D. This was the formula that STL used. However, STL has some heavy forwards which we don’t have. If we expect to dress all our speedy forwards then we need to find some heavy gritty forwards that can keep up.

    • Hockeysense9393

      I wonder if the Flames are in the long term prediction mode. We are really seeing the change from big bruising guys to small speedy guys big time now, but the league is still in transition. You would think that with the league being smaller and faster now then 5 years ago, will again be even smaller and faster 5 years from now. Small, fast, skilled, and gritty players will be the flavor. Although I do agree with bigger mobile defensemen as the counter to this philosophy…I believe this is what the Flames along with many other teams are steering towards. St. Louis and the Bruins may be the perfect storm to where the league is at this moment, but it is still changing. Think of a player like Phillips or Pelletier five years from now.

      • Skylardog

        I disagree on the “in transition” part. Speed is king already and size is no longer a factor. But there is a difference between size and intensity. We lack intensity.

        • Luter 1

          Bull crap, size/strength will always matter. 18 Gaudreaus doesn’t make the playoffs. Unfortunately our small/midsized guys are not strong (ie Crosby) physically or on the puck.

          • Albertabeef

            A lot of hockey players don’t do extra strength conditioning. I remember one summer(can’t remember which summer) when Iggy concentrated solely on getting stronger. He looked and felt great coming into camp. Only problem was his new found muscle bulk had made him brutally slow on the ice, and he knew it and admitted so publicly. I think guys today try to avoid bulking up too much. However diet has changed as well and makes it harder to build any extra bulk. That ad on TV still cracks me up :”what, you guys don’t carb load anymore?” lol Mikey!!!

        • Hockeysense9393

          If that was for me dog…I totally agree with you. I was expanding on what you are saying. The league is ever-evolving to what is working for the majority. That’s pretty normal. How the cup was won this year was different then how it was won 5 years ago. The team that wins it in 5 years will be different then today. That’s my point…ever in transition. The change right now is speed over brutality. Transition game over neutral zone coverage. 4 forward power play over 2 D power play. Every team is basically equal in defending so it’s transition and speed to capitalize on mistakes and miscues. speed and counter is the new MO…
          …that comes from smaller skilled players. Flames are looking at the intensity without a size factor for the next 3-5 years. ,Mange, Phillips, Pospisil, Gawden, Pelletier, even Sveningsson all look to have some bite in their games without being particularly big. Intensity is coming…

    • Budgie

      Agreed-minus Hathaway our almost gritty players:-Tkachuk, Bennett, Gio, Hamonic, and Neal-maybe Neal will be useful-there is a lack of grit-Dube is coming up if Frolik leaves, it makes you wonder if nothing was learned from the Colorado series. Perhaps a deal for a heavy hitting forward is coming.

      • Albertabeef

        What about Eat-two Popsicles? Too-low and Pops should make a fun duo in the A to watch. They might not help the big team this year but going forward we have options. Mange and Matty Phillips both play a grind kind of game. However with Hathaway gone, and if no moves are made, Dube will still be on the team and will be on the ice game one. BP would most likely sit Neal(if he still stinks), Frolik, or Czarnik. Or should he sit Dube out until after the Canicks game? What a crappy way to start your NHL career, poor kid. That replay still gives me chills as it runs through my head.

  • Hockeysense9393

    See, that’s what was bugging me about his UFA eligibility years. His 1st season he only played 1 game before the playoffs, but he was considered with the Flames during his injury (that took up the majority of the season) before being sent back to Kingston to finish off their season and playoffs. I know I’m wrong, but to me that should be considered counting games with the Flames. I know it doesn’t…but it should lol.

    So it’s looking like it may be close to what I predict maybe. If it’s still RFA years, then 2.6-2.8 mil. If you’re eating UFA years, then it should most likely be above 3 mil.

    • Albertabeef

      He was sent down because he hadn’t played 9 NHL games. Also he would only lose a year off his RFA status if he PLAYED a minimum of 40 games in a season. I looked it up the other day.

      • Albertabeef

        While he was recovering from his injury he was on IR payroll still making an NHL paycheck because he was with the team when diagnosed with his injury and they can’t send you anywhere unless you are healthy. You know crazy CBA stuff.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    if you look at each of Sam and Janko 1st 3 years in the NHL [ Better Skilled NHL now ] they R better then Backland first 5 seasons with the Flames.. so Let’s trade the Kid’s and hope on the 12 seasons with Flames Backland has a break out year for what we paying him not like we r in cap Problem …

    Vets over Kid’s

    GFG

    • freethe flames

      Sgt; what are you suggesting? Sign him for a little more but for a little longer like Garry T is suggesting? The guy I would gamble is Mangiapane; I would go $1.25 x 3 for him. I also would like to see them ink Andersson for a longer second contract.

    • Albertabeef

      “if you look at each of Sam and Janko 1st 3 years in the NHL”
      Do you think its right to compare a 19 year old rookie to a 23 year old rookie? For the record Janks has only played 2 NHL seasons. But Backs at age 24 had 45 more career points than Janks at 24. Benny is ahead of Backs by 70 career points at age 22. But if we turn that around Benny has 116 points before he plays his 23 year old season which was Janks rookie season. If we compare Backs and Janks 23 and 24 year old seasons Backs had one less point over those two seasons. Backlund is still useful and as long as he keeps hitting 20+ goals in a season I have no issues with him or his cost.

  • freethe flames

    Funny how I have been writing about these comparables as they have been happening. These numbers are good news for the Flames as they keep his cap hit down. Rittich’s deal is an interesting one; his contract almost has to be greater than Talbot’s if the Flames are talking about him as the 1a. I have said for a few days now I think it should be about the as Mrazeks $3.15m. Getting both Rittich and Bennett signed for less than a combined $6m would be a good thing. Mangiapane in under a $1m but the issue remains Tkachuk; even if he signs a team friendly internal cap contract the Flames still need to move a contract.

    • Kevin R

      What makes you so sure Rittch is a guaranteed #1. Talbot has a much more longer resume with some real good success.
      Based on the comparables, I see Rittch getting more term than Talbot but pretty darn close & maybe slightly less. 3 year term at 2.5 mill per would be a good deal for both sides. Rittch didnt play any playoff games, has never started in the playoffs, he shouldnt come in at Mrazeks number, even Lehner only got a 1 year @ 5.0 mill. Binnington who won the Cup & was in the voting for MVP only got $4.4 per for 2 years. Going to be tough for Rittch to push or get too close to that 3.0 mill barrier. Believe me, I like Ritter & have hopes for big things next year from him.

    • Hockeysense9393

      The problem I see with that prediction is that Mrazek has a larger body of work and signed as a UFA. Also, signing a “veteran” like Talbot who also is a UFA for whatever price, shouldn’t affect Rittich’s number what-so-ever. It’s two totally different cases, especially if it went to arbitration. So it doesn’t matter…

      Even if you wanted to compare…you take Talbot’s UFA signing for one year and Mrazek’s UFA for two years and compare to a RFA with just over a year of experience? He shouldn’t even be close to those guys.
      I would expect that the Flames will ask for two years for arbitration, which would probably come down to 2.2-2.5 mil (if that). Rittich being an undrafted player with a small sample size of NHL experience, gives him very little room to stand on.

  • SgtRoadBlock

    need to trade any one over 29 to open up caproom and plan for Seattle Pick next year…

    And the love for Backland need to go, you had him for 11 seasons soon 12.. Time to move on he eating up cash and ice time from Kid’s

    TJ, Fro, Neal just dump for anything can’t win every trade…

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    What are people’s thoughts about trading for Marcus Foligno. He is a bottom 6 player that can handle himself against the heavy weights but has the pace to play with skilled quick players. This is a better option than Maroon and could be had for Frolik or part of a trade with Brodie. Perhaps we could do Brodie, Frolik, and pick ( or Janko if we must)for Zucker and Foligno.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      The Cap implications would be a wash unless we include Janko, then we free up 1.6 M to help free up Cap space for our RFAs. This increases our grit and scoring.