I felt miles better today. I’d say I’m probably almost there. I think one more skate tomorrow with the injured guys and then if all goes well tomorrow, I think I’ll be back with the main squad. - Sam Bennett
CALGARY, AB -- It’s tough to tell what’s caused Calgary Flames prospect Sam Bennett more pain: his groin, or the fact that his groin has forced him to miss the first two on-ice sessions of training camp.
Neither has been particularly favourable for the first round pick.
“I’m dying to play,” said Bennett, selected in the first round (No. 4) in the 2014 NHL Draft. “I want to show everyone what I can do. I want to be 100 percent so I can just start playing again.”
The good news -- delivered by Bennett himself -- is that he isn’t far off from showcasing his skills.
After a lengthy skate on Saturday, Bennett said that the groin that has sidelined the 18-year-old since the final period of the Young Stars Classic in Penticton is responding well.
And that has given the Kingston Frontenacs centre plenty of reason to be optimistic.
“I felt miles better today,” said Bennett, who had 36 goals and 90 points in the Ontario Hockey League last season. “I’d say I’m probably almost there. I think one more skate tomorrow with the injured guys and then if all goes well tomorrow, I think I’ll be back with the main squad.
“It’s pretty tough. This happens in hockey. It’s part of the game. I’m just trying to make sure I heel up 100 percent and then just get back in the lineup and start playing again.”
Until then, it’s the waiting game for Bennett.
The smart game too, according to Flames general manager Brad Treliving.
“The most important thing is to be smart,” Treliving said. “Right now, although we’re all excited and want to see him play and all those sorts of things, we’re going to let intelligence rule the day here and if it gives him an extra day or two, that’s what it’s going to take.
“Hopefully it wont be long, but we’re going to give Sam the time he needs and hopefully nip this thing in the bud than have it linger on for days.”
The Flames medical staff is all over ensuring Bennett will be ready to go.
“Our medical staff are on top of things with Sam,” coach Bob Hartley said. “Whether Sam’s a first round pick or a free agent at camp, it’s going to be the same rule. We’re not going to put Sam in a situation where he’s not 100 percent. He skated today with the injured guys. We’re going to ramp him up.
“He’s going to be checked with our medical guys and as soon as they tell us we can get him maybe in some drills with no contact and then get him in some games.”
Not all has been lost for Bennett.
Though he hasn’t played in scrimmages in training camp, he has been skating. And watching.
“Definitely by watching the games and watching how they prepare for the games and how they act in the gym and just being around them is the best way to learn,” Bennett said. “There are some really great players, some really great leaders on this team.
"I’m definitely trying to take in as much as I can.”