The Florida Panthers have re-signed pending free agent forward Sam Bennett to a four year deal worth a whopping $4.4 million per season.
"Sam's impact on our club this past season was seen immediately, injecting physicality, skill and energy into our lineup," said Panthers GM Bill Zito in a statement on the team's website. "We are thrilled to have him in our Panthers lineup and look forward to what he can bring to our offense in the upcoming 2021-22 season."
If you're thinking, "$4.4 million for Sam Bennett!? That seems like an overpay...", well... you're not alone. The 25 year old looked incredible with the Panthers, putting up six goals and 15 points in 10 regular season games, but that's obviously a very, very, VERY small sample size. His career best seasoon was 18 goals and 36 points in rookie season with the Calgary Flames in 2014-15. Since then, he's failed to crest the 30 point plateau. Yet, the Panthers are committing four years and over $16 million to him? Seems like a giant risk, especially given the way that Bennett plays. He's an all-heart, nose to the grindstone type player who gives it everything he's got. While that's great and all, it's not the kind of guy that you hand out a long-term contract to. I mean... just ask the Vancouver Canucks how their four year deal with Micheal Ferland worked out.
Bennett was traded to the Panthers from the Flames prior to the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline for prospect Emil Heineman and a 2nd round draft pick.
"Obviously my career hasn't gone the way I expected, and I think I have a lot more to prove and I have a lot more to give," Bennett said at the time of his trade. "I'm thankful for the opportunity and I love playing in Calgary and loved all that. But now I've got a new fresh start and a fresh opportunity, and I couldn't be more excited."
With free agency on the horizon, Bennett made the most of the opportunity he received in Florida and absolutely crushed it. Now, he's a $4.4 million dollar player living on the Miami beach. That's about as good as a 'change of scenery' trade as you can hope for.