Sam Bennett, among the most notable names on the list of remaining restricted free agents, is now under contract.
The Flames announced on Wednesday that they had re-signed the 21-year-old center to a two-year contract with an annual average value of $1.95 million.
That’s certainly an affordable price for a Flames team that had about $7.1 million in cap space before this contract, according to CapFriendly.
These moves would strongly suggest this organization feels it’s in a window to win now, and it still has about $5.2 million in cap space to perhaps make another addition to their lineup, if they choose.
The fourth overall pick in 2014, Bennett made his NHL at the end of the 2014-15 regular season and then turned heads in the opening round of the playoffs with an impressive showing for such a young player — remember, he was only 18 years old at the time — against the Vancouver Canucks.
But after scoring 18 goals and 36 points during his first full season in 2015-16, Bennett’s numbers dropped off this past campaign with only 13 goals and 26 points.
General manager Brad Treliving stressed to Sportsnet 960 the importance of getting Bennett signed prior to training camp.
“I think history has shown that missing time — or people that don’t get (to training camp) on time — usually it’s not a good thing,” said Treliving, before the deal was announced. “To get ready for an NHL season is difficult. You’ve got to get the reps. You’ve got to get playing at NHL pace. You’ve got to get doing it every day prior to the start of the season.”
This new contract, a bridge deal, puts the onus on the highly touted and talented Bennett to now go out and prove himself over the next two years.