With Sam Bennett, the fourth overall pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, now cleared for contact following shoulder surgery in October, the Calgary Flames have a big decision on their hands:
What do we do with him?
“We’re nearing that time (to make a decision),” Flames GM Brad Treliving said, per the Calgary Herald. “It’s not today. It’s not a month from now. But it’s somewhere in the next little while.”
Bennett, 18, has been skating with the Flames for a few days and is itching to get back into game action, wherever that may be. Calgary could directly dispatch him to his OHL club in Kingston — the Frontenacs are struggling this year, though, with a 20-24-5-3 record — or the Flames could send him to AHL Adirondack on a conditioning stint (which would only be a temporary fix, as he’s too young to play in the American League for the remainder of the season.)
Then, there’s the option behind door No. 3: Keeping him in the NHL.
This one’s a tricky proposition. The Flames are in the midst of a playoff chase, and throwing an 18-year-old — one that hasn’t played the entire season, no less — into the middle of that could be an overwhelming ask.
That said, Bennett could be an intriguing add. He’s an offensively gifted center that scored 91 points in 57 games for the Frontenacs last season, displaying both good playmaking abilities and an impressive shot.
Whatever the Flames opt to do with Bennett, it’s clear the decision needs to be made soon.
“We’ll sit down and make sure everything is where it needs to be medically and physical so he’s ready to go,” Treliving explained. “And once he’s ready to go, we’ll make those decisions.”