It came late in the final hour, but Florida Panthers general manager Bill Zito made one final move before the NHL Trade Deadline to bolster his roster for what looks to be a daunting trip to the postseason.
The Panthers acquired forward Sam Bennett and a sixth round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft from the Calgary Flames for prospect Emil Heineman and Florida’ second round pick in the 2022.
Bennett, the fourth overall pick in the 2014 draft, has produced 4 goals, 12 points and 19 PIM in 38 games with the Flames this season.
Expected to be more of a point-producer when he first entered the league, Bennett has reinvented himself over the years as a gritty physical player, who has been more effective in the postseason than the regular season.
While the cost was high, that kind of player is something the Panthers needed more of.
Bennett has appeared in 402 career NHL games, all with Calgary (2014-15 to 2020-21), registering 67 goals an 140 point. In the postseason, Bennett recorded 19 points (11G/8A) over 30 career playoff games.
The Cats, who are currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak, have now added Bennett, defenseman Brandon Montour, and skilled forward Nikita Gusev for the stretch run.
Montour and Gusev are expected to play on Thursday in Tampa. Bennett’s debut will likely come later.
Heineman, 19, was the 43rd overall pick in 2020. He has put up 7 goals and 13 points in 43 games with Leksands IF of the Swedish Hockey League. Heineman appeared in five games at the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton and scored one goal.