RW/C-R / 6-0.5, 173 / 27-Nov-91
Skating: 65 / Skill: 70 / Sense: 75 / Compete: 40 / Toughness: 35
Strengths: Great vision and offensive instincts. Tremendous hands. Good skater.
Weaknesses: Plays the game on cruise most of the time. No physical game and avoids the high traffic areas.
The offensive ability is some of the best available in this draft. Great all-around offensive skills - terrific shot, excellent stickhandling, and great vision. Always seems to find open linemates with a crisp pass. Excellent shooting touch with a quick release and good accuracy. Has a wicked one-timer and can score in a lot of ways.
Deceptively good skater, with very agility and top speed. Long stride, but first couple steps are only okay. Very shifty and can handle puck really well when he gets going at top speed. Comes back hard defensively when his team needs it, but for the most part the Vees only needed him and Denver Manderson hanging out high in the zone ready to do their thing when the puck came to them.
Does not display a real high energy/effort level. Very slight build and will need to get stronger. Speed and agility allowed him to pretty much never get challenged physically in this league - and that is a big unknown. You'd like to see how a guy handles being hit and having less space to work with. We won't find out with this guy until he moves to the next level.
Wasn't until the 2nd round (Westside) and conference finals (Vernon) where the opposition provided tighter checking defense. Penticton head coach Fred Harbinson split Bennett and Manderson (who seemed to have such chemistry together the whole season) into separate lines in those playoff series, and had Bennett center his own line (despite playing RW for most of the season). Still don't understand that move, as Bennett struggled at that position and was very underwhelming.
Was very high on this guy for most of the season, but the disappearing act late highlighted the boom-or-bust risk of this player.
Summary: His stick-to-the-perimeter act and struggles late in the playoffs were a big red flag for me. I had visions of Ivan Huml dancing in my head after that. But there might be only two or three guys in this draft that have better hands. Ultra high risk, high reward - either he turns into a 1st/2nd liner for you or takes his perimeter show to the European pro leagues for the rest of his career. If it got to about the 22-25 range and Howden was gone, I'd roll the dice on this guy.
Draft Day: I think there's a consensus on him in the 20-30 area. But he's got the kind of offensive ability that I could see a team falling in love with and getting paranoid about missing out on - so a surprise appearance in the middle of the first round (13-20) isn't out of the question.