BUFFALO — Back in 2010, then-Penguins GM Ray Shero selected Beau Bennett with the 20th overall pick at the draft.
Six years later, the two have been reunited — in New Jersey.
In another Day 2 deal, the Devils acquired Beau Bennett from Pittsburgh in exchange for the 77th overall pick. The Pens then used that pick to select Connor Hall, a defenseman from OHL Kitchener.
Much has changed for both Shero and Bennett over the last six years. The former was fired by the Penguins, and hired by New Jersey last offseason. The latter, once considered a promising prospect, has been besieged by injuries and never really got his career going in Pittsburgh.
And now, he’ll get a shot in New Jersey.
This has been the Devils’ strategy since Shero came aboard — try and find young, one-time prospects that haven’t fulfilled their potential. It worked very well with Kyle Palmieri, who scored 30 goals this year after getting pried out of Anaheim, but the jury is still out on Shero’s other similar moves (Devante Smith-Pelly, specifically).
Shero’s also dipped into the Pens organization before. Head coach John Hynes was hired out of AHL Wilkes-Barre, where he spent some time coaching Bennett. Shero athen brought aboard Tyler Kennedy, his former winger in Pittsburgh.
In Bennett, the Devils get a 24-year-old that’s never played more than 49 games in a single season due to two wrist surgeries, a recurring shoulder injury and even a bout of the mumps.
Last year, Pens GM Jim Rutherford admitted the club erred in Bennett’s development, saying he should’ve spent more time in AHL Wilkes-Barre.
In light of all this, today’s deal is a reasonable gamble for the Devils. Bennett has offensive talent — he had six goals and 12 points in 33 games last year — and New Jersey is desperate for more scoring throughout the lineup.
Of course, the Devils will need to sign him. Bennett is a pending RFA, having played last year on an $800,000 contract.