41Sam Bennett

The Sam Bennett market has been set

Barring a deal being worked out beforehand, the Calgary Flames will amble into a Toronto boardroom on Saturday morning to debate the merits of Sam Bennett. The Flames and Bennett’s camp have an arbitration hearing scheduled, where each side will provide comparables and arguments for Bennett’s worth. While the two sides have been chatting about a deal, a pretty clear market value for Bennett has quietly been set.

Bennett is 23 years old. He’s amassed 55 goals and 116 points in 312 NHL games; that’s 0.176 goals per game and 0.372 points per game. He had 27 points last season (0.380 points per game).

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One year deals

Two one year contracts have effectively set the ceiling and floor for Bennett.

Buffalo signed Johan Larsson (26) to a deal with a $1.55 million cap hit. Larsson has played 331 NHL games and has 0.096 goals per game and 0.234 points per game. He had 14 points last season. There’s no damn way you can justify paying Bennett anything less than Larsson. It’d be a tough sell to pay him anything close to Larsson’s cap hit.

On the high side, there’s Colorado’s Andre Burakovsky (24) to a one year pact with a $3.25 million cap hit. Burakovsky has played 328 NHL games and has 0.189 goals per game and 0.442 points per game. He had 25 points last season. If you’re Bennett’s agent and you don’t mind doing this process again next summer, you point to Burakovsky’s $3.25 million deal and say “I’ll settle for $3 million.” (Bennett likely takes a slight haircut because Burakovsky’s been a more productive player points-wise over his career.)

Two year deals

The Burakovsky cap hit looks a little bit high, though, compared to how the market for two year deals has come together.

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  • Scott Laughton (25) got $2.3 million for two years from Philadelphia. In 272 NHL games he has 0.114 goals per game and 0.290 points per game. He had 32 points last season.
  • Joel Armia (26) got $2.6 million for two years from Montreal. In 237 NHL games he has 0.164 goals per game and 0.342 points per game. He had 23 points last season.
  • Danton Heinen (24) got $2.8 million for two years from Boston. In 162 NHL games he has 0.167 goals per game and 0.500 points per game. He had 34 points last season.

Based on his career thus far, you can make strong arguments that Bennett should get more than Laughton and Armia. Over twice as many career games, Bennett’s points per game is significantly lower than Heinen’s. It would be tough to justify paying Bennett more than Heinen, but if the Burakovsky deal suggests one year at $3 million would be fair then it would be difficult to stretch things to two years and drag the cap hit down – you would expect it to nudge up a little bit. You can make a good argument that Heinen gave the Bruins a hometown discount relative to other contracts, but that argument won’t likely sway the arbitrator.

How the two sides (and potentially the arbitrator) weigh the Burakovsky and Heinen precedents will be very interesting and could ultimately determine Bennett’s market value.

Four year deals

If both sides are exhausted from hammering out shorter deals and decide to go longer, two interesting contracts have set a bit of a market at four year deals.

  • Oskar Sundqvist (25) got $2.75 million for four years from St. Louis. In 144 NHL games he has 0.111 goals per game and 0.278 points per game. He had 31 points last season.
  • J.T. Compher (24) got $3.5 million for four years from Colorado. In 156 NHL games he has 0.205 goals per game and 0.384 points per game. He had 32 points last season.

Arguably this is where Bennett’s worth is most easily defined. He has more production than Sundqvist and slightly less than Compher. On a four year term, he can probably make a case for just shy of Compher’s deal – perhaps four seasons worth of $3.3 million or thereabouts.

Time will tell where Bennett and the Flames land, but the contracts signed by similar restricted free agents suggest that he’ll be getting a fairly significant raise from his prior $1.95 million cap hit.

  • Longshot1977

    While it’s possible that Bennett has come something close to his “peak”, I still thing there is room for development. That’s not to say that I think he’s a future first-liner, but I do think his ceiling may be a solid 2nd liner. Realistically, he’s should stabilize into a reliable middle-6 presence.

    If both camps are willing to do 4 years at something in the range of $3M per, I’d be happy with that.

  • Garry T

    Give him $2.5 per year x 4 years equals $10.0 mil. If he cannot feed himself off that plus what he has made so far,
    sorry but that is bad budget management. I think that is a fair number

  • Zeb Zadock

    His stat line is a little dissatisfying is it not?
    27 points last year and everyone seems to have fallen in love with this player.

    Question. If the flames had to trade one. Who would you trade.
    Backlund or Bennett?

    • HOCKEY83

      Backlund…obviously. Not only would you gain salary cap but there would then be no excuse not play Bennett up higher in the line up. Give him more ice time play him with more talent.

      • Zeb Zadock

        Interesting considering Backlund almost had as many goals as Bennetts entire point total. While Backlund quietly averages around 50 points a season he also shuts down the best player in the league.

        • HOCKEY83

          I didn’t say Bennett was better than Backlund…getting rid of Backlund’s 5.3 mil per until he’s 35 would be a good idea at some point. Bennett is still just 23 and is paid less. Backlund over his first 5 season was no better than Bennett is right now and Bennett’s more than twice the gritty player backlund has ever been. I’m just saying I’d rather see what the future holds for Bennett for less money than watch Backlund degrade over the next 5 years for more money

    • FLT

      Bennett’s popularity far exceeds his actual contribution to the team. And I like the guy, so I’m guilty of that as well. Trades always depend on the return, but Backlund is a much more valuable player than Bennett.

      • The Red Knight

        Maybe give him some term and maybe he’d sign for a bit of a discount, if there’s a player I’d lock up it would be Bennett he is on the rise and is gonna become a tough player to play against, I think he still has a top 6 potential, but it’s his defence and all around game that will be a huge value , he’s a pitbull that gives his all and sticks up for his team the most out of any flame. Kid can demolish players 30-40 pounds bigger than him . He will become a Backlund 2.0 but better .

      • oilcanboyd

        So I guess each NHL team should trade away their most valuable trade asset! At least those in a cap crunch this season or the next… The reason you pay your top players is that they are worth that asset on your team…

  • The Red Knight

    Maybe give him some term and maybe he’d sign for a bit of a discount, if there’s a player I’d lock up it would be Bennett he is on the rise and is gonna become a tough player to play against, I think he still has a top 6 potential, but it’s his defence and all around game that will be a huge value , he’s a pitbull that gives his all and sticks up for his team the most out of any flame. Kid can demolish players 30-40 pounds bigger than him . He will become a Backlund 2.0 but better .

  • Brian McGrattan's Salute

    I wonder if this will actually go to arbitration. From what I understand, its not really a pleasant process, and tends to (though not always) put some coldness between the player and management. Hopefully we can get some news soon!

    I’m finding it hard to imagine we will be a better team next year on paper, especially with the Lucic move, but (a) the off-season isn’t done, and (b) we have a lot of young fellers that will ideally step up to play more prominent roles on the team. This includes Bennett.

    Anyone foresee 20 goals by Mangiapane? I do. He scored those 7 or 8 goals in a real short order, and his playoff goal was a beat. I just hope BP and co trust the young guys enough to play them in higher roles/roles they are suited to, rather than just have them grinding on the forth line (i.e. Babcock’s philosophy).

    • HOCKEY83

      Ya…I find it hard to imagine that the Flames will be better than best in the west as well. Hard to improve on that. Hoping they can just repeat that performance.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      I found it interesting that Haynes had Dube as the 1C in his mock 2022-2023 starting line up. Hayne’s is usually dialed in. Despite the fact that the Flames don’t have him penciled in as a center, I could see him climb the depth chart. Dube is a hard one to figure out. His junior career and National team pedigree reminds me of Lazar but that is the floor. His ceiling shows glimpses of Brayden Point. I could see him taking Frolik’s spot on a checking line next season.

      Mangi reminds me of Marchessault from size, to skating, to shot, and grit. I could see him busting out in the next couple of years. If I was a betting man I would say that Dube has the most productive offseason of the bubble players.

  • Skylardog

    If Benny asks for $3.0 per for 3 years, I think the Flames win this. At $2.8 for 2 years, it could go either way. I think the Flames come in at $2.3 to 2.5 for 2 years. I could see Benny asking for 1 year at $3.0 and maybe having a chance, but the numbers seem to support a $2.5 to $2.8M deal at the most.

    • Garth

      SF…Bennett although a disappointment as a 4th overall has made his mark. He is a dependable hard nosed winger who produces in the playoffs. Jankowski still is a question mark .Has never established his identity. Loads of potential but is very inconsistent. Need to see more and quickly as he is now 25.

    • Jumping Jack Flash

      Yah…the Janko hate is out of control. I have said a number of times that I think Janko has 30 goals per season in him. Bennett does everything a team could ask for when he is not scoring but I don’t see the offensive upside. Janko had those totals playing without an interested winger in Neal.

      • Jankowski has done one thing decent over the past 1-2 years. Kill penalties. Potting a few shorthanded goals in the process. I don’t see any chance of him repeating those SH goal totals but I give you that he is good at reading the play and disrupting the pp. My compliments end there. He is a 4th liner that may move up to 3rd in a pinch. If you are slotting this guy in a top 6 position in your line up then you are in serious trouble.

      • Albertabeef

        Janks had 17 goals one year and 14 the next. When has he had these totals? At least Benny’s 4 goal game was in mid season not the last game of the year.