PHILADELPHIA – While he would like to go first overall in the NHL Draft, Sam Bennett isn’t going to lose much sleep Friday night if he ends up being selected a few picks later. He knows he'll face the same challenges as other prospects no matter where's he's picked.
“I think about it a little bit but I don’t think it’s that important in the end. It is just a number and everyone’s going to be in the same spot come training camp,” the Kingston Frontenacs center said Thursday afternoon. “You’re all going to have to still make the team. But obviously it would be pretty special to be that top guy.”
Bennett is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater and has been very busy in the past month. He celebrated his 18th birthday on June 20.
Bennett said he’s been training constantly and has had more meetings with teams. He’s also taken part in special events with the other top prospects.
He, along with Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Leon Draisaitl and Michael Dal Colle attended Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals and on Thursday, some of the top prospects took a tour of Philadelphia. Stops included meals at Pat’s and Geno’s Cheesesteaks, a run up the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and batting practice at Citizens Bank Park.
He can’t believe that the first round of the NHL Draft is now only one night away.
“It’s crazy,” he said. “This year has gone so fast and to think that I could be drafted tomorrow night, it’s crazy.”
A lot was made at the NHL Combine at May when Bennett was unable to do an overhand pull-up during the fitness testing. However, he’s taken the criticism from some media in stride and has used it as a learning tool for how to deal with the scrutiny that will come with being an NHL player.
“It didn’t bother me too much. I guess I take it as I have more of an advantage over the other players because I got a chance to deal with some criticism at a young age where most people won’t experience that until they’re in the NHL,” he said. It was different, it was new and I took what I could from it.”