He's the best amateur hockey player in North America, he may be the top overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft and he can't do a single pull-up.
Sam Bennett, 17, said he was "disappointed" with himself for not being able to do a pull-up at the fitness testing during this week's NHL combine, but experts say he shouldn't be too worried about that affecting his draft stock.
"I was wanting to do the best I can in every test," Bennett said. "But, I guess, ultimately games aren't won or lost if you can do a pull-up in the gym."
Bennett, a center with the Kingston Frontenacs, dominated the Ontario Hockey League last season. He tallied 55 assists and 36 goals in 57 games, and at midseason he was named the top North American prospect by the National Hockey League (NHL) Central Scouting Bureau.
Even though Bennett was 12 pull-ups behind the leaders at the combine, he's still projected to be a top pick at the June 27 draft.
"(At age) 17, 18, 19, if you go back in history with some of the players in the game, they’ll find that there was one summer that really made a difference in their physical development," NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. "So maybe at this stage he just hasn’t had that summer of development, and it'll come."
This was the first year that pull-ups were measured at the combine. Before this, teams had counted push-ups. But because GMs are looking to better gauge the strength of prospects, pull-ups were determined to be more useful.
So maybe the 6-foot, 180 pound Bennett isn't exactly at the same level of fitness as Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, who can reportedly do 31 pullups, but his on-ice skill is clear. And that's what matters most.
"I think (what sets me apart) really just a combination of my hockey sense along with my compete level," Bennett said. "I think I compete as hard, if not harder, than anyone else."
The NHL is relatively new at staging a combine for draft prospects, but there are lots of examples in other sports of why these results aren't foolproof. The NFL has had its share of "workout wonders" who can't actually play football very well. In the NBA, Kevin Durant was the only prospect at the 2007 combine who could not perform at least one rep of a 185-pound bench press.