Sam Bennett signed a four-year contract with the Florida Panthers on Monday. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The 25-year-old forward could have been a restricted free agent Wednesday at noon ET. He scored 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) in 48 regular-season games for the Calgary Flames and Panthers last season, including 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 10 games after he was traded to Florida on April 12.
“Sam’s impact on our club this past season was seen immediately, injecting physicality, skill and energy into our lineup,” Panthers general manager Bill Zito said. “We are thrilled to have him in our Panthers lineup and look forward to what he can bring to our offense in the upcoming 2021-22 season.”
Bennett scored five points (one goal, four assists) in five games in a six-game loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup First Round, though he was suspended for Game 2 by the NHL Department of Player Safety for boarding Lightning forward Blake Coleman.
Selected by Calgary with the No. 4 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Bennett has scored 155 points (73 goals, 82 assists) in 412 regular-season games for the Panthers and Flames and 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 35 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
Forward Sam Reinhart was traded to the Panthers by the Buffalo Sabres on July 24, giving Florida have three of the top four picks from the 2014 NHL Draft: Reinhart (No. 2, Sabres), Bennett and defenseman Aaron Ekblad (No. 1). Three other Panthers were chosen in the top 10: forwards Aleksander Barkov (No. 2, 2013), Jonathan Huberdeau (No. 3, 2011) and Owen Tippett (No. 10, 2017).