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2010 NHL Entry Draft

BCHL time showed scouts Bennett could be a force

Wednesday, 06.23.2010 / 9:00 AM / 2010 NHL Entry Draft

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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BCHL time showed scouts Bennett could be a force
Beau Bennett grew up not far from the site of the 2010 Entry Draft, but he had to make a side trip to Penticton, B.C, to help NHL scouts find him.
The 18-minute trip from Beau Bennett's home in Gardena, Calif., to Staples Center in Los Angeles took a 1,331-mile detour.

Bennett, a 6-foot-1, 173-round right wing listed at No. 32 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2010 Entry Draft, had to go just a bit out of his way to get to where he wanted.

A product of the L.A. Junior Kings minor hockey organization, Bennett took a one-year sojourn to Penticton, B.C., where he played with the Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League.

It turned into a fortuitous move, as Bennett led the league with 120 points, making him the first rookie to record 100 points in the league in seven years.

Five questions (Click image to enlarge)

"He's got velvet hands and a lightning-quick release on his shot," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com. "He has radar vision and can lay a pass down as good as anyone in this draft. Deceptive skater and can be elusive in the corners slipping checks."

Slipping out of Southern California wasn't as easy -- especially not for a place as far away as Penticton.

"I could have gone to the WHL, USHL or BCHL," Bennett told NHL.com. However, the WHL was ruled out until after he graduated high school. "They said we want you to be 18, out of high school, graduated, before you make a decision that effected whether you go to college or not, which is understandable from their standpoint. As far as USHL or BCHL, I really believed in coach (Fred) Harbinson and he really let me play my style of game.

"They said from the get-go we're not going to change you as a player. That was the selling point for me. I just want to refine my game, get better defensively, get stronger, while still retaining the offensive side, which is really fun."

Harbinson found Bennett at a California tournament after the 2008-09 season, and immediately was interested.

"I went to a camp and saw him personally," Harbinson told NHL.com. "We were very excited about him because we knew he had the potential to be a big-time player. I had a vision who I was going to play him. … There was a lot of excitement with Beau."

Generally when a player makes a radical move similar to the one Bennett made, there's an adjustment period needed. In Bennett's case, however, none really was needed.

"It's a bit of a culture shock, going from L.A. to Canada to play junior hockey," said Harbinson, "but the elite players adapt. That's what Beau did. It didn't take him very long to adapt to his surroundings. Once the regular season started, he was moving in the right direction."

He never really stopped, as he finished the season with 41 goals, including 25 on the power play. Both totals were the second-highest in the league, and he added 14 points in 15 playoff games.

Next season he'll hope for a similarly smooth adjustment when he plays at the University of Denver.

"After checking it out, their style of play, the coaches, the teammates, it's a big city, all those factors went into making it the place for me," Bennett said.

Before college, though, there's the draft, where he should have a sizable cheering contingent.

"I don't know if it's going to be a huge cheering section, but I know a lot of my friends are going to buy tickets," he said.

At least they won't have to detour through British Columbia to get there.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com