Kingston Frontenacs centre Sam Bennett was named the top North American prospect by the NHL’s Central Scouting Services. Although he is smaller than the other top centre prospects (Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl), Bennett has a bit of an edge to his game as a highly competitive ‘sandpaper’ forward.
Oilers Colour Analyst Bob Stauffer had Bennett on his Oilers Now show on 630CHED on Thursday and asked the 17 year-old where he got that grit and competitiveness from. Bennett said it came from early on in his childhood.
“That’s definitely probably my strongest asset… Be the hardest worker, do whatever it takes to win and my dad drove that into me when I was little and I’ve just continued to do that growing up,” Bennett said.
Bennett places an emphasis on playing a ‘defence first’, 200-foot game. He models that after players like Los Angeles’ Mike Richards and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews.
“Those are just two guys that I try and play like,” he said. “They’re both great leaders, they both play the 200-foot game and compete like crazy so that’s what I try and do.”
Bennett scored 91 points (36-55-91) in 57 games this season for Kingston, compared to his 40-point year (18-22-40) last season. The improvements came from his growing confidence and physical growth as well.
“My confidence is definitely way higher this year. That along with getting bigger and stronger, it’s come together well. I’ve had a lot of success this year and I’m just going to continue looking to improve this summer and get bigger and stronger for next year.”