Sam Bennett, the fourth player taken in the 2014 NHL Draft, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames, the team said Friday. No financial terms were disclosed.
"It really is just a dream come true," Bennett told the Flames website. "It feels unbelievable. It's something I've dreamed of my whole life and now that I've finally done it, it really is amazing.
"It really is surreal. When I did finally put the pen to the paper it was an amazing feeling. You know, it really is. It feels unbelievable."
Bennett, a center, is the ninth player taken in the first round of the 2014 draft to sign an NHL contract.
He had 36 goals, 91 points and 11 penalty minutes in 57 games with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League last season. He was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 draft and was voted by the Canadian Hockey League as the top professional prospect.
The signing capped a busy week for new general manager Brad Treliving, who re-signed center Joe Colborne and goaltender Joni Ortio. Treliving said getting Bennett under contract was a matter of time.
"I think with Sam, obviously we were going to sign him," he told the website. "I don't think there was any mystery there. It's just a matter of getting him slotted in. I think with Sam, it's a good situation where you get the contract behind him, and as I talked to him the other day, now the real work starts."
Though forward Sean Monahan, Calgary's top pick last season, spent the season with the Flames, Treliving said he's told Bennett there are no guarantees, and that he could wind up returning to the Frontenacs.
"The one thing I want to state clearly is there's no pressure here on Sam to jam him into the lineup," Treliving said. "My expectation, quite frankly, is I'm preparing myself for Sam to be a junior player this year. Sam's going to have to make the team and he's going to have to make a real compelling case to be here.
"If he does, good on him and good for us. Then he's earned his way onto the team."