CALGARY, AB -- Sam Bennett's bid to make the Calgary Flames as an 18-year-old came up short because of a shoulder injury.
Bennett, the fourth pick of the 2014 NHL Draft and No. 8 on the NHL.com Top 60 prospect ranking, was trying to play through pain in an attempt to be in uniform for the season opener against the Vancouver Canucks at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET, SN). Bennett was placed on the injured/non-roster list to start the season.
"I guess, really, I wanted to play and I'd do anything to make the team and to play in the NHL this year," Bennett said. "I guess maybe I should've come up sooner but I didn't think it was that big of deal. I guess it is a bit bigger of a deal than I thought.
"Obviously I want to be playing [in the NHL]. That was my goal this year. I think ultimately this is going to be the best for my career. I think after I get this all healed up I'll just be that much more confident and that much more stronger when I do get a chance to play."
When that is has yet to be determined.
Bennett will miss an undisclosed amount of time with the shoulder injury, according to Flames general manager Brad Treliving.
"Sam has a shoulder injury and has been dealing with this for some time," Treliving said. "One of the great characteristics of this young lad and one of the things that draws us to him is his competitiveness and I think he's probably been dealing with this for longer than he's wanted to let on.
"Obviously he's made it more aware to us in the last few days. We are probably going to spend the next 24 to 48 hours to finalizing his plan of care. There is a strong possibility that this could require a surgical procedure. We're just not there yet in terms of the final prognosis."
It was a trying training camp for Bennett.
He sustained a groin injury at the Young Stars Classic tournament in Penticton, British Columbia in early September and was listed as day-to-day at the time. He later missed two preseason games with an undisclosed injury before returning with two assists in three preseason games for the Flames.
Bennett said the shoulder pain is something he's been battling since last season.
"I had problems with this shoulder last year," he said. "I didn't think anything of it. I played through it all year. It just started to act up a little bit at the start of camp this year. Right now we're still trying to figure it out but it's really sore.
"We're getting some tests done and it's looking like it could be something a little more serious. We're not 100-percent sure what it is right now."
Treliving suspects Bennett's shoulder pain is the same pain he had last season rather than a new injury.
"This issue that he's had with his shoulder, in my opinion, I think it's been there for a while," Treliving said. "I think he's been pushing through this for some time. Does he need to get stronger? Yeah, all 18-year-olds need to get stronger. I have zero, zero concern about Sam Bennett. I think those people that came and saw him play here got a little taste. This kid is going to be a real good player and I'm telling you, he's biting his lip.
"For all you that have kids, he wasn't going to say a word until we asked him, 'Is something going on here?' That just shows how focused he was on making this team."
Treliving said he doesn't expect there to be any lingering effects once Bennett's injury is healed.
"Ultimately this is just a speed bump," he said. "[Bennett] is going to be a very good young player and I think these things happen. It's not a major setback and he'll be up and going again. I'm not going to be elusive; once we have a final plan of care for him we will share that with you."
Author: Aaron Vickers | NHL.com Correspondent