The Calgary Flames have officially added Sam Bennett back in the mix, getting what they needed out of their negotiations with the 21-year old, a 2-year bridge contract.
On Wednesday, the Flames and the restricted free agent forward came to terms on a 2-year, $3.9 million deal, which will work out to be a cap hit of $1.95 million per season, a very generous and flexible move by the player, which should give him ample motivation to earn that key long-term deal down the road and help the Flames in the short-term with their cap situation.
Thanks to appearing in playoff games in the 2014 season, Bennett's entry-level deal did not slide an extra year, which brought him a year closer to free agency and they had to cross that bridge this summer, negotiating a new deal with him.
Last season, it was a trying year for the kid, only scoring 13 goals and 26 points in 81 games with the club, but there is still certainly some upside to be had with him.
I think it was fair to assume that the deal was going to get done here and so projections were already in place for Bennett in the 50-point range this year. That will be a solid jump for him and he'll certainly be under the microscope in his third full regular season. Getting squeezed out, however, I would imagine that Hunter Shinkaruk will be the regular call-up during the season, when injuries strike, but his original projections sort of had that thought process in place.
The Flames blueline is going to be where the bubble bounces a bit, as I can see them carrying eight players out of training camp, as they try and massage the minutes for their depth. Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington and Matt Bartkowski are going to be wrestling for the number six minutes and it will likely come down to performance versus waiver eligibility, when it is all said and done. Andersson and Kylington can still head down to the AHL without waivers, which could make that decision much easier. Nevertheless, I can see them carry these three, shortening up the forwards a bit and still leaving $1.4 million in unused cap space.