By John Vogl
MISSISSAUGUA, Ont. -- Sam Bennett, the top-ranked draft prospect according to NHL Central Scouting, had meeting after meeting with team scouts and general managers this week. More often than not, they asked if he was ready to jump into the NHL.
His answer never wavered.
"I do feel like I’ll be ready come training camp," Bennett said today at the NHL Scouting Combine. "I’m going to work really hard in the gym this summer and on the ice to be ready for the NHL this year. I was asked by a whole bunch of teams if I thought I was ready, and my answer every time was I think I’m ready to play next year."
The 17-year-old center has the size and talent to at least make a strong case. He had 36 goals and 91 points in 57 games with Kingston of the Ontario Hockey League. At 6-foot and 178 pounds, he could probably handle the physical challenges.
He could not, however, handle a new fitness test at the Combine. The league add pull-ups this year, and Bennett's total was ... zero.
"No, I wasn’t able to do that," he said with a pained laugh. "My upper body really isn’t my strong suit, but that’s something I’ll be working on in the gym this year.
"I was definitely disappointed with myself. I always want to do the best I can in every test, but I guess ultimately games aren’t won or lost if you can do a pullup in the gym. I guess I’m not too, too worried about it."