Position: Left Wing/Center
Team: Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Hometown: Holland Landing, Ontario
Projected: Top 5
Sam Bennett is a skilled forward with good speed and acceleration, with a nice shot as well. He has fantastic hockey sense and brings consistent energy game after game. Honing in on his skills this season, Bennett has risen from a projected mid-first-round pick to a top 5 or even first overall selection in this year's draft.
However, if projected as a left wing at the NHL level his value might be less than that of a potential number one center. Because of this I could see him falling below some of the centers like Reinhart, Dal Colle, and Draisaitl even though he is currently ranked as the top North American skater by NHL Central Scouting.
As far as player comparisons go, Doug Gilmour (the GM of Bennett's junior team, in whose honor Bennett wears #93) has been cited by Bennett himself as someone to emulate due to his responsible two-way play and constant energy. Keep in mind this comparison relates to Bennett's on-ice style, not necessarily his career potential.
Kingston Frontenacs (OHL): 40 GP, 26 G, 40 A, 66 P, 85 PIM, +26
Canada U18 (Hlinka Memorial): 5 GP, 3 G, 1 A, 4 P, 6 PIM, +3
"Bennett is showing he deserves to be in the conversation for first overall. He's a well-rounded player who is impacting the game in so many positive ways and continues to get better."
"Sam didn't get the exposure when we got him, but we felt great to get him where we did," [Kingston Frontenacs GM Doug] Gilmour said. "He plays both ends of the rink. He doesn't say much but is an extraordinary talent, so he's going to get better."
Where He Would Fit
The Nashville Predators obviously need a center but could also use a left wing with the ability to play top six minutes night in and night out besides Colin Wilson. Gabriel Bourque might someday be a top six winger but his drop in production this season leaves that up to serious debate. Bennett's speed and hockey IQ could significantly boost Nashville's offensive attack, and he could potentially become a very good complement to players such as Wilson, Craig Smith or Filip Forsberg.
Information also obtained from eliteprospects.com and draftsite.com.