ST. JOHN’S, NL. — Mac Bennett was selected 79th overall in the 3rd round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. This was a year where the Canadiens organization selected the likes of Louis Leblanc, Alexander Avtsin and Gabriel Dumont from the podium at the Bell Centre. Leblanc was an ownership decision and proved to be a bust. Bennett, Dumont and Joonas Nattinen, currently playing for JYP in the Finnish SM-liiga, are the only prospects left from the ’09 crop.
Bennett took the slow and steady approach, playing one year with Cedar Rapids of the USHL and proceeding to University of Michigan where he completed his degree in musicology. During his draft year NHL Central Scouting had the following report on Bennett:
“Mac is a very strong skater with good acceleration and overall speed. He has very good lateral mobility and moves his feet quickly. He can lead the rush and moves the puck quickly from his own end. He has a very strong shot from the point. He is a very good passer. He runs the power play and distributes the puck well. His defensive zone play is very good. He is quick to gain and maintain control of the puck and moves it out quickly.”
Last year as a rookie with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Bennett had a modest stat line of four goals, eight assists for 12 points over 59 games. It is worth mentioning this was the first time in three years that he had played more than 32 games, so fatigue may have very well been a factor. Bennett figures to slot on the left hand side behind Jarred Tinordi and Mark Barberio, with powerplay time because of his offensive upside.
Bennett is one of these guys that have flown under the radar for the Habs amongst names like Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu and Greg Pateryn have been given a shot by the Habs. In all likelihood he will spend the entire season with the IceCaps working on rounding out his 200-foot game in a bigger, faster pro league compared to the collegiate level. Long term it is tough to say if he will ever make an impact with the Habs, but his past coaches and scouts alike seem to see the work ethic in him that typically results in success. Best case scenario he’s a 5th-6th pairing defenseman in the NHL at some point (not necessarily with the Habs or in the near future), however the IceCaps are lucky to have him anchoring down that left side for the 2015-16 campaign. I expect he will see an increase in ice-time, and combined with his experience should produce a little better this season. However, without that increased productivity, seeing as offense has always been his bread and butter, Bennett may have already found his ceiling.
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