Sam Bennett pulled out of tonight's game due to the NHL's covid protocols.

Bennett is out.

HockeyFeed

The Florida Panthers may have a bit of a preseason scare on their hands.

According to an announcement from the Panthers organization, veteran National Hockey League forward Sam Bennett has been pulled out of tonight's game. A veteran player being pulled out at the last minute ahead of a preseason game is not that unusual, but the problem for the Panthers is in the reason for which Bennett has been pulled.

The Panthers are reporting that their newly signed forward will be unavailable purusuant to the NHL's protocols surrounding covid-19. It has to be stressed that this does not mean that Bennett himself has tested positive for covid-19, a player can be flagged by the league's protocols without a positive test, but it is a cause for concern for the Panthers no doubt.

If Bennett has so much as recently come into contact with a person that has gone on to test positive, it could very well be that he will have to be sidelined for a period of time to avoid any potential further contamination of the Panthers locker room.

The timing for both Bennett and the Panthers is rather unfortunate with the 25 year old former first round pick set to enter his first full season as a member of the Panthers franchise. Bennett did appear in 10 regular season games for the Panthers last season, where he shined recording 6 goals and 9 assists for 15 points in just 10 games, but that was following a midseason trade from the Calgary Flames.

Bennett followed up that strong regular season performance with an equally strong performance in the playoffs, picking up a goal and 4 assists over 5 playoff game appearances for the Panthers. All of this led to the Panthers offering Bennett a 4 year contract that carries an average annual value of $4.425 million per season, a contract that Bennett is currently in the first year of. 

The expectation was that he would be a core piece of their forward group starting this season but, if this particular violation of the league's protocol keeps him out for any length of time, that may have to wait a little.