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2014-15 Pensburgh Season in Review: Beau Bennett

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We look at the oft-injured season of a former first round pick

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Age: 23 (November 27, 1991)

Contract Status: Pending RFA as of July 1, 2015 ($900,000 cap hit for last 3 years)

2014-15 Stats

GP

TOI/GP

Goals

Assists

Points

49

12:29

4

8

12

Corsi For %

Corsi Rel %

Goals For %

Zone Start %

PDO

53.5%

1.05

51.3%

32.4% Off / 30.4% Def

98.8


2014-15 Penguins forwards

bbennf15


Most frequent forward linemates

Linemates

Goals For%

Corsi For%

Total 5v5 time (561:05 for Bennett)

Brandon Sutter

58.8%

50.6%

313:10

Nick Spaling

76.9%

56.9%

219:35

Steve Downie

55.6%

52.6%

134:41

Evgeni Malkin

41.7%

59.5%

94:51

Bennett is a player who tends to look very good on a spreadsheet or on charts and graphs. Check out his numbers with Sutter, and it's difficult not to be impressed, the duo had great numbers. But the coaches didn't want to play them together down the stretch due to their physical traits lacking strength and not being prone to win board battles. Bennett's numbers with Spaling are basically off the charts, that could be a great start to the wings of a 3rd line next season.

However, I added an extra line to point out that Bennett and Malkin play well together as well. The Pens need top-6 forwards, and why look over a homegrown guy in Bennett? BB19 needs to stay healthy, and he needs to produce more points, but he also needs to get the playing time and favorable linemates/starting chances to be able to do it.

Just look at Bennett's bubble, if it could be moved more to the right (for better zone starts like the other top 6, skilled forwards) the production will follow.

Another star-crossed season

After recovering and rehabbing a second wrist surgery last summer, Bennett was eager and ready to put his injury woes behind him in 2014-15. Then, in the last week of training camp, Bennett took a spill to the ice during practice and injured his knee. Another cruel, freak twist for a player who couldn't seem to catch a break.

That string of bad luck wouldn't end there- in his seventh game back from the knee injury, Bennett got rolled up on in a 11/24 game against Boston and wouldn't return again for 5 more weeks, and in the interim he was diagnosed with the mumps, because why not suffer a little more bad luck and misery.

From there, the physical pain was gone, but the mental frustration was just beginning. Bennett would pretty much play all of 2015, which is good, but was utilized incorrectly by the Penguins, cast as a bottom six (and sometimes 4th line) player, playing with pluggers for the most of the season.

Pens GM Jim Rutherford even admitted that the team didn't handle him right.

"We made a mistake on Beau Bennett as far as development-wise," he said. "I’ll take the responsibility for that. When it was getting closer for him to become a waivered player, I felt we should have sent him to Wilkes-Barre and let him play a lot. He’s a guy that hasn’t played enough over the years. So we kept him around that time. He’s not consistent enough, he’s not strong enough, but he’s a very talented player."

Rutherford still believes that Bennett will "be a good NHL player." He added, "I hope it starts next year and not the year after, but at some point in time he’s going to get it."

The Good

Bennett's assists/60 and points/60 are right in the neighborhood of Chris Kunitz , which says more about Kunitz's season slump, but it also harps back to player usage. If Bennett gets a shot to play with skilled players, the points will follow. Bennett definitely can hold onto the puck, his possession numbers in terms of Corsi, Fenwick all show a young player who's on the ice more often than not on the right side of shots on the net. Bennett also is a good playmaker and can make smart passes in the offensive zone. He has all the skill that a former first round pick should have.

The Bad

Right now, Bennett's biggest problem is his perception among Penguins management. Read the quote by Rutherford again, even though he compliments Beau, he throws in that he isn't strong enough of a player. It's difficult to get a bigger role without demonstrating fundamentals that a coach can get behind. It's a reason why Blake Comeau (a physical player, and a positionally strong one) gets more chances to move up the lineup, and a guy like Bennett languished all year. Of course, Comeau made the most of his opportunities too with goals. Bennett played 0:45 per game on the PP and generated 0 points on the man advantage. Some of that is segmented and isn't his fault, but Bennett had opportunities to show well, and he couldn't create.

GIF of the Year

OK, so it's a Vine and not a GIF but you'll get over it.

Preseason expectations

Expectations were all over the map for Bennett- some think every year will be the year he has a major breakout and produces points at a big rate like a 20 goal or 50 point season. There's the polar opposite side of the spectrum with some expecting him to get injured on any given shift. And a happy medium. I would have said, ideally, Bennett would have settled into a 3rd line role with Brandon Sutter, propped BS16 up Corsi wise and had himself a reasonably productive season.

Verdict

Another year wondering what's next for Bennett. As Rutherford hints, the Pens hope he breaks out sooner than later, because if it's later, it probably won't be in a skating Penguin jersey. Time and patience is running short for a player who hasn't carved out any sort of niche in the NHL, and doesn't really have a great option going forward. The Penguins need top 6 forwards and skilled wingers, but is Bennett part of the solution? Or just a body in the way? It's assumed the Pens will probably bring Bennett back on a very friendly contract for next season- so what would you like to see his role be going forward?

***

Feel free to vote in the poll below to grade Beau Bennett’s season on a scale from 1 to 10. Vote based on your expectations for him coming into the season -- i.e. 1 being "he was incredibly disappointing and I want him out now", 10 being "he was outstanding even beyond my craziest expectations".