MONDAY MUSINGS: TALE OF TWO SAMS

Robin Brownlee
June 02 2014 02:00PM

So, Sam Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs didn’t manage to do a single pull-up at the 2014 NHL combine in Toronto. Not even one.

That's somewhat alarming because there's probably a half-dozen media guys who cover the Edmonton Oilers who could manage at least one, especially if you suspended a doughnut or side of poutine over the bar. None of them are getting any closer to the NHL than they are now sitting up in the press box. Let's face it, managing one lousy pull-up is setting the bar low.

After all, it's not like Bennett didn't know what the fitness testing regimen at the combine would be. It's not like he was rushed into testing still fatigued by a long run in the playoffs, as members of the Edmonton Oil Kings were. And, being one of the lighter players tested at 178 pounds, you'd think he'd have managed to hoist himself over the bar at least once, no?

"I was definitely disappointed with myself," Bennett said. "I was wanting to do the best I can in every test. But, I guess, ultimately games aren’t won or lost if you can do a pull-up in the gym."

ONE PIECE OF THE PUZZLE

Bennett is right, of course. Upper body strength, which he is clearly lacking at this point in his physical development, is just one piece of the puzzle. In all, invitees were tested in 13 areas. Nothing we saw in testing will do much to separate – positively or negatively – Bennett from Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart or Leon Draisaitl, all candidates to become Oilers.

That said, there's no way not being able to do at least one pull-up is a positive in Bennett's favor. What it indicates more than anything is it's clear Bennett needs to get in the gym and get stronger and bigger. Not so he can win pull-up contests, but so that he can better compete in the NHL and hold up to the rigors of an 82-game schedule.

None of the testing done in Toronto measures hockey IQ, competitiveness and skill, qualities Bennett has in spades. Most hockey fans in Edmonton, every NHL city for that matter, will take those attributes over being the combine pull-up champ – that honor, by the way, went to Josh Ho-sang, a forward with the Windsor Spitfires, who managed 13.

Bottom line, Bennett could have put to rest some of the concerns about his lack of size by acing the testing, but I don't see his admittedly feeble pull-up total affecting his ranking. As an aside, many of the top-ranked prospects for the 2014 draft were conspicuous by their absence in the top-10 results of each category at the combine. You can find those results here.

SAY IT AIN'T SO

89-Gagner-8

R.J Umberger wants out of Columbus and a large segment of Oiler fans want Sam Gagner gone, but that doesn't make for a match in terms of a trade between the Blue Jackets and Edmonton from where I sit.

While I agree that Gagner doesn't fit as a No. 2 centre behind Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, given that both are on the smallish side, it makes no sense to me to send Gagner away when his value is at an all-time low. I'd much rather wait to see if he can bounce back from a horrid season that started with broken jaw and went downhill from there.

That holds especially true if we're talking about moving him for Umberger, who wants out of Ohio, according to connected Columbus Dispatch beat man Aaron Portzline. Umberger has a no-trade clause until June 15, which he could waive if he really wants out badly enough. After that date, he can submit a list of 10 teams he won't accept a trade to.

Umberger, 32, fits Edmonton needs in that he's a big centre at six-foot-two and 220 pounds. He's reached the 50-point mark three times in his NHL career. In terms of money, Umberger has three years left at $4.6 million, so he's essentially a wash with Gagner. Those are the hooks.

NO MORE RETREADS

The problem is Umberger is a player in decline, as his offensive totals from his career-high of 57 points in 2010-11 indicate. Gagner doesn't turn 25 until August. The Oilers would be trading away a player whose best years might still be ahead of him for a player whose best years are behind him.

My guess is Edmonton would be at or near the top of the list of the 10 teams on Umberger's list after June 15, so the buzz created by the original Portzline item will likely end right there – unless he's absolutely desperate to get out of Columbus and away from coach Todd Richards.

While I'm fine with moving Gagner along given the mix of the top six forwards here, doing so right now for a worn-out Umberger makes no sense to me.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#151 Barry
June 03 2014, 06:12PM
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Re: Leon Draisaitl,

Here are the most recent and final rankings of various agencies

ISS Draisaitl, Leon #6 June 3rd Final

Craig Buttons Draisaitl, Leon #4 June 3rd Final

Future Considerations Draisaitl, Leon # 5 June 1st Final

Corey Pronman Draisaitl, Leon #7 May 15th Final

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#152 Sorensenator
June 03 2014, 06:26PM
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Zarny wrote:

@Doug Sorensen

Yeah, if anyone should know not all 1st overall picks are created equal it's the Oilers. And to be fair, the NHL top 20 scoring and best players in the game aren't exclusively 1st and 2nd overall picks. Getzlaf, Perry, Giroux etc.

Which is why I think it's dangerous to say the Oilers should take Reinhart or Bennett over Draisaitl because they are "ranked" higher. Rankings are somewhat arbitrary when scouts are talking about "heart" and "hockey IQ" as the difference.

I fully expect a couple of kids this year to end up as elite NHLers but with this kind of draft class it's a crap shoot. In 5 years the best player from this draft could be Nikolaj Ehlers or William Nylander. With no clear separation I think you take the kid who fits your needs the best.

As for Yak I just think he has to figure out how to translate his game to the NHL level. He can't just beat everyone 1 on 1 with speed anymore. If/when he figures out what to do without the puck he'll be golden. He might not win the Richard trophy but the kid has mad skillz.

Good response, makes sense.

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#153 Sorensenator
June 03 2014, 06:28PM
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bazmagoo wrote:

Here's hoping Sam Bennett's lack of chin up ability drops him to #3 and we land the next Jonathan Toews.

Yeah, I don't know how it's possible that he couldn't do one pull up, the kid looks like he could easily and he's only 177 pounds.

He can skate, stick handle, and shoot just fine

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#154 Barry
June 03 2014, 06:50PM
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The 4 new final mock drafts rankings added up.

AE--6

SR--8

SB--12

WN-- 21

MDC--22

LD--22

Divide by 4 to get average.

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#155 madjam
June 03 2014, 07:28PM
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Calgary new GM had a good take on players who did not show well on strength . They and their scouts , etc. have to evaluate the bone structure of these young players to see if they can adequately add to their strength . Some you can , and some do not have the structure to do much about it . Might Bennett need further evaluation ? It is a concern especially at transitioning to NHL level of play , as apart from Junior hockey .

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#156 madjam
June 03 2014, 08:05PM
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A CASE FOR DRAISAITL : 2009-2010 U16 : in 26 games -48G,55A = 103 points . 2010-2011 U16 in 29 games- 97G,95A = 192 points . 2011-2012 U 17 and 18 still in Germany -35 games -21G , 35A =56 points .

2012-2013 P.A . 64games -21G ,37A =58 points . 2013-2014 P.A. 64 games -38G,67A= 105 points .

Seems like he is fast to improve and double his stats in short order no matter where . Can hardly wait to see what his stats might be next year .

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#157 Hellspawn
June 03 2014, 08:54PM
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I don't really care who they take as long as Lowe is gone after next years suck fest

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#158 Rick
June 03 2014, 09:15PM
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Barry wrote:

The 4 new final mock drafts rankings added up.

AE--6

SR--8

SB--12

WN-- 21

MDC--22

LD--22

Divide by 4 to get average.

Robin Brownlee is wrong, there is a top 3.

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