BeauBennett


Is Beau Bennett worth the hype?

 

There’s been a lot of speculation this offseason that Pittsburgh Penguins sophomore Beau Bennett should be a top-six player. However, statistics say otherwise. Bennett has failed to produce as a top-six player while other Penguins have stepped up, and that doesn’t bode well for this upcoming season.

 

Bennett won’t be playing regularly with Sidney Crosby, as the Pens captain is firmly entrenched with Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis as his linemates. That leaves one open spot in the top six playing alongside Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.

Bennett had a decent rookie season with 14 points in 26 games. Bennett skated predominantly on the second line though he was often shifted throughout the lineup as teammates got injured and new guys were brought in through trades. Still, Bennett found himself with top linemates quite frequently even though Malkin only appeared in eight of those games. Just take a look at Bennett’s top linemates from last season courtesy of Frozen Pool:

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

13.02%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 15 JEFFREY,DUSTIN - 18 NEAL,JAMES

12.33%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 71 MALKIN,EVGENI - 18 NEAL,JAMES

7.58%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 48 KENNEDY,TYLER - 16 SUTTER,BRANDON

6.89%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 9 DUPUIS,PASCAL - 10 MORROW,BRENDEN

6.28%

EV

27 ADAMS,CRAIG - 19 BENNETT,BEAU - 15 GLASS,TANNER

5.05%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 15 JEFFREY,DUSTIN - 48 KENNEDY,TYLER

5.05%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 18 NEAL,JAMES - 16 SUTTER,BRANDON

3.45%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 9 DUPUIS,PASCAL - 16 SUTTER,BRANDON

3.37%

PP

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 48 KENNEDY,TYLER - 16 SUTTER,BRANDON

 

The first couple of line combinations look promising. Former 40-goal man Neal appears on Bennett’s top two line combinations and Malkin appears on his second most frequent line. From this list, 30 percent of all Bennett’s shifts came with Neal on the ice and about 19 percent of Bennett’s shifts came with Malkin. It must be great to be a rookie in the NHL and get the chance to play with those two.

 

However, when you examine Bennett’s line production from last season you will see that he did not take advantage of his great fortune:

 

Total Points for Beau Bennett : 14

Str

On Ice Line Combination

Points

%Total
Points

EV

BENNETT,BEAU - DUPUIS,PASCAL - MORROW,BRENDEN

3

21.43%

PP

BENNETT,BEAU - CROSBY,SIDNEY - KUNITZ,CHRIS - NEAL,JAMES

2

14.29%

EV

BENNETT,BEAU - JEFFREY,DUSTIN - KENNEDY,TYLER

2

14.29%

EV

ADAMS,CRAIG - BENNETT,BEAU - GLASS,TANNER

1

7.14%

PP

BENNETT,BEAU - CROSBY,SIDNEY - SUTTER,BRANDON

1

7.14%

EV

BENNETT,BEAU - NEAL,JAMES - SUTTER,BRANDON

1

7.14%

EV

ADAMS,CRAIG - BENNETT,BEAU - CROSBY,SIDNEY

1

7.14%

EV

BENNETT,BEAU - MALKIN,EVGENI - NEAL,JAMES

1

7.14%

PP

BENNETT,BEAU - KENNEDY,TYLER - SUTTER,BRANDON

1

7.14%

PP

BENNETT,BEAU - IGINLA,JAROME - JOKINEN,JUSSI - KUNITZ,CHRIS

1

7.14%

 

Of Bennett’s 14 points, only one came with Malkin on the ice. That’s not a very high percentage considering Malkin is one of the best players in the world. You would hope for Bennett’s sake that they would show more chemistry together even considering how few games they actually played with one another. This trend carried over into the playoffs:

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

18.97%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 12 IGINLA,JAROME - 71 MALKIN,EVGENI

11.72%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 12 IGINLA,JAROME - 16 SUTTER,BRANDON

6.21%

EV

27 ADAMS,CRAIG - 19 BENNETT,BEAU - 36 JOKINEN,JUSSI

5.86%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 71 MALKIN,EVGENI - 18 NEAL,JAMES

4.14%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 9 DUPUIS,PASCAL - 36 JOKINEN,JUSSI

4.14%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 12 IGINLA,JAROME - 36 JOKINEN,JUSSI

3.45%

EV

27 ADAMS,CRAIG - 19 BENNETT,BEAU - 15 GLASS,TANNER

3.1%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 87 CROSBY,SIDNEY - 14 KUNITZ,CHRIS

 

Bennett appeared in only six playoff games, but he had a big chance to contribute, playing with some of the game’s greatest players when he did suit up. Yet, Bennett ended up with only one point: A powerplay goal against the New York Islanders in the first game of the first round.

 

Undaunted by the rookie’s modest performance last season the Penguins seem willing to keep trying Bennett with Neal and Malkin. Bennett has skated frequently with the Penguins’ top stars in this year’s exhibition season (four games):

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

31.82%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 71 MALKIN,EVGENI - 18 NEAL,JAMES

9.47%

PP

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 71 MALKIN,EVGENI - 18 NEAL,JAMES

9.09%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 22 D'AGOSTINI,MATT - 16 SUTTER,BRANDON

8.71%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 12 KOBASEW,CHUCK - 16 SUTTER,BRANDON

7.95%

PP

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 87 CROSBY,SIDNEY - 14 KUNITZ,CHRIS

2.27%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 87 CROSBY,SIDNEY

2.27%

PP

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 17 JEFFREY,DUSTIN - 36 JOKINEN,JUSSI - 16 SUTTER,BRANDON

1.52%

EV

19 BENNETT,BEAU - 87 CROSBY,SIDNEY - 14 KUNITZ,CHRIS

 

Despite favourable linemates, Bennett has registered just one point through the pre-season:

 

Total Points for Beau Bennett : 1

Str

On Ice Line Combination

Points

%Total
Points

EV

BENNETT,BEAU - MALKIN,EVGENI - NEAL,JAMES

1

100%

 

Is there a lack of chemistry between Malkin and Bennett that is keeping them off the score sheet when they play together? Maybe there’s some luck involved?

 

More and more poolies are climbing aboard the Bennett bandwagon, yet there is little evidence that Bennett deserves any kind of praise. Bennett didn’t click with Malkin in the regular season last year, didn’t connect with him in the playoffs, and hasn’t stood out in this year’s exhibition season.

 

If Bennett doesn’t step up he could lose his spot to someone like Jussi Jokinen. Jokinen has also had the opportunity to play with Malkin and Neal during the exhibition season and has scored four goals in that time.

 

Last year during the regular season, Jokinen played mostly with Kunitz, Dupuis, Iginla and Morrow, replacing Crosby on the top line. He was quite successful with that opportunity as well scoring 11 points in 10 games.

 

How long will Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma allow the line of Malkin, Neal and Bennett to stay together if Bennett can’t produce?  

 

It appears as though Bennett is just the latest in a long line of prospects who were expected to play on a regular basis with Crosby or Malkin but never could produce at the NHL level. While youth is on his side, history and statistics are not.

 

Jokinen is beating down the door – if Bennett doesn’t pounce on this opportunity, surely he (or someone else) will. Don’t expect Bennett to last long on the top-six this year and don’t expect a big year out of him. 

 

Previously in Frozen Pool Forensics:

 

How Relevant is Captain Colorado?

Can Thomas Vanek Survive on his Own?

 

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