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Flames' Bennett prepared to roll with punches amid Tkachuk RFA stalemate

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CALGARY – When training camp opened last year, all talk of Sam Bennett revolved around the bushy beard he showed up with.

This fall that honour goes to Johnny Gaudreau.

"I certainly hope I didn’t look like that," chuckled Bennett of the Keanu Reeves patch-job no. 13 elected to show up with.

This year the banter around Bennett revolves around his opening day placement Friday on the second line.Yes, the same spot alongside Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik previously occupied by Matthew Tkachuk.

With Tkachuk’s contract situation predictably dragging into camp, all eyes were on who coach Bill Peters would plug into the left side of the 3M Line. It’s telling that after a summer of contemplation, Bennett is his go-to guy to round out the top six.

For now anyways.

"I definitely saw an opportunity for myself coming to camp this year and I hope I can make that jump and make it a permanent thing,’ said Bennett, 23, who admitted he was hoping Peters would give him an opening look-see there.

"You never really know until you get here. Things can change. There’s a business side of it and things happen throughout the year, so you’ve always got to be prepared to step in and now’s a time for guys to step up and I could be one of those guys."

Sure could. He has the junior numbers that suggest he can certainly step up his game offensively. But can he gain the coach’s trust that he’s capable of the defensive responsibilities such........

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