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Draft prospect Sam Bennett: I'm ready for the NHL

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."

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

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