June 27th, 2014 | Posted in Commentary
By: D'Arcy McGrath
Always love when I get a chance to put a story up on draft day.
Its raw. The player is 10 minutes old as a Calgary Flame. Things are sinking in slowly. You had your own list going into the draft and you hope it goes your way.
Then you see the selection, and you can take a deep breath.
Last year I felt elated when Lindholm was taken a pick ahead of Calgary. I jumped out of my seat. I didn’t envision such an immediate entry into Flames lore, a 20 goal season, and rising to my feet many more times during the season but I was pumped.
Similar feeling this year with the Flames getting Sam Bennett, after the Oilers take Draisaitl at #3.
Any draft preview article, scouting report, media opinion of Sam Bennett was the same. A player that won’t quit, a kid that can do it all, tenacity mixed with skill and edge. A tough guy to play against.
And with that the Flames have the best center core since his idol, Doug Gilmour lead a Joey Mullen balanced line to a Stanley Cup, with Joe Nieuwendyk backing him up.
Now it’s Monahan and Bennett, or Bennett and Monahan, and don’t forget Mr Advanced Stat, Mikael Backlund in a young, balanced center core in the quickly rebuilding Calgary Flames.
My list going in was Ekblad, Bennett, Reinhart and Draisaitl, a draft Calgary fans have been beating the hell out of since Xmas, is finally sorted out.
It will be a lot of fun to watch Draisaitl and Bennett go head to head for years in Alberta … a direct comparison of the Oilers choice to make Draisaitl the first to go between the two.
Brad Treliving doesn’t have that concern. He had a list and an order he’d take the four players, but drafting fourth he was able to take the last guy standing. Where did he have Bennett ranked? We may never know, but he’ll never be second guessed in the way Craig MacTavish will in the coming decade or two.
Those lucky enough to attend the Flames summer camp will have a lot of young players to keep an eye on, as the Flames are suddenly flush in top six projected forwards and guys with skill.
Monahan will be back of course, Emile Poirier will recover from a shoulder injury and join the group in November, but Morgan Klimchuk, Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett are quite the trifecta to keep an eye on during the summer camp, and then again in Penticton.
The Flames are doing it right, they didn’t go off the board, they didn’t move down, … they took the best and obvious player available.
Now it’s development time, and it will be interesting to see what they do with Bennett.
In the fall the Flames will have Monahan, Backlund and Matt Stajan up the middle. They’ll also have a good long look at Max Reinhart and Markus Grandlund at center should they impress.
There isn’t a need to rush Sam Bennett into the NHL.
I believe they’ll allow him to blow their socks off, and he just might. But he won’t be rushed.
My gut says he goes back to junior after playing perhaps his 9 game max, and then dominates the world junior tournament for Canada.
The Flames of tomorrow are already taking shape today.
Enjoy your Friday night Calgarians, another great day in Flames history.