Current Team: Kingston Frontenacs, OHL
Date of Birth: June 20, 1996
Place of Birth: Richmond Hill, Ontario
Weight: 180 lbs
For teams at the top of the draft looking for goal-scoring, one won't need look much further than Sam Bennett. Young for his draft class and playing in just his second OHL season, Bennett destroyed his competition for the Kingston Frontenacs by notching 36 goals and 91 points in just 57 games. He finished the year as the top North American skater in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, edging out the likes or Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart.
Bennett isn't the biggest or the fastest, but he does bring exceptional quickness and a mental feel for the game to go with his goal-scorer's hands and quick shot release. He also brings constant effort and a willingness to play some defense as well. He walked away with three top finishes in the OHL's Eastern Conference Coaches Poll as the smartest player, the best playmaker, and the best stick-handler; he also finished third in the best defensive forward category.
He's drawn comparisons to his Kingston GM Doug Gilmour with some scouts going so far as saying he looks like a "Gilmour clone".
Kingston Frontenac General Manager and former NHL great, Doug Gilmour, is far from dead yet but if he was, everyone would be saying that he was reincarnated in the body of one Sam Bennett. Style, size, leadership, grit, compete, even the number – the same. Maybe he has been cloned. Whatever the situation, you send out Sam because he has that all out compete which put together with high level skills can make the difference. Sam’s top skill is his all out, no hands barred compete level. This is a skill you can’t buy because no team will let a player go with this skill. This is why Sam will go in the top five in the draft, maybe even number one as NHL Central Scouting has him. - Eldon MacDonald, The Hockey Writers
There are guys who elevate their game when it matters most, and you're looking to project which players will do that consistently at the next level. The guys we have at the top all are in that mold, but when we look at Sam Bennett we see a guy who could potentially have a Jonathan Toews type of career. - Dan Marr, NHL Central Scouting
Bennett is an energetic, skilled winger who is quick on his feet and has deceptive speed. He generates chances with his quickness, awareness and constant effort. He's not flashy, but energetic and does possess an excellent release. - Future Considerations
A Good Fit in Columbus?
In a word, absolutely. You watch Bennett's highlights, and he does three things well: he skates and has an exceptional motor, he can stick handle and release a shot with anybody, and he makes everyone around him better with his ability to feed his linemates. He's not the biggest guy, but considering the Jackets want to "play faster" and continue to add legitimate scoring to their lineup, Bennett would be the perfect addition for the Jackets. He could play with any combination of players, he's smart, he's fast, he sets up his teammates, and when it's up to him he can flat-out score. What's not to like there?
Well, other than the fact that he's in the top tier of three guys in this draft and so there's no way Columbus can get their hands on him barring a significant trade up...
Bennett in Action