Matty Beniers is just 19 years old, yet he already has some impressive accolades. He was the Seattle Kraken’s inaugural draft pick, taken second-overall at the 2021 draft, and was a member of the gold medal-winning Team USA at the 2021 World Junior Championship. Back in an attempt to repeat, he’ll have an increased role on this year’s team.
Beniers Enjoying Strong Season With Michigan Wolverines
Beniers is currently in his sophomore season with the University of Michigan Wolverines. He is following up an impressive freshman year which saw him score 10 goals and 24 points in 24 games, all without taking a penalty. His team is filled with draft picks from the first few rounds of the past few drafts but despite the sea of talent surrounding him, this future Kraken is swimming just fine.
This season, he’s tallied 11 goals and 22 points in 20 games. He’s tied with fellow gold medal-winner Brendan Brisson for team-lead in goals and for second in points. Seven of his goals were power-play goals and three of them were game-winners. He loves to shoot, as he is second on the team with 54 shots, trailing his buddy Brisson.
In Big Ten conference play, he’s scored 10 goals and 18 points in 13 games, leading the team in both categories. All seven of his power-play goals have come against conference opponents. It’s a sign that he can really be counted on to show up in important games and isn’t afraid to shoot in big moments.
Aside from the offensive production, he’s excelled defensively. He leads all Wolverines’ forwards with 17 blocked shots and plays in all situations. He has the potential to have a similar impact as Trevor Zegras did on last year’s team, according to TSN Analyst Craig Button on the Missin Curfew podcast.
He’s had some impressive stretches that highlight his potential to be a top producer for Team USA. He had a five-game multi-point streak this season, which included three straight multi-goal games, and a four-point game. He finished the streak with eight goals and 12 points.
Beniers Brings Championship-Level Experience Back to Team USA
The Hingham, Massachusetts native has risen through the ranks of the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) on his way to represent his country on a grand stage. His first taste of international play came in the 2014-15 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament alongside teammate Brett Berard.
Fast forward to the 2018-19 season, he took the ice for Team USA in the World U-17 Hockey Challenge and U-18 World Championship. He tallied four goals and five points with 10 penalty minutes in 12 games between the two tournaments.
He donned the red, white, and blue during the 2020-21 season twice, having played in the World Junior Championship and World Championship. In 13 games, he scored two goals and five points. While he won the gold in the World Juniors, his team won Bronze in Riga, Latvia in the World Championship.
How Beniers Fits With Team USA
Beniers looks to be the top center on Team USA. He’s been compared to players like Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron. Between that and his prior experience winning gold, you can expect to see him carrying big minutes. He’ll play in all situations and his faceoff ability should be counted on in big moments at the end of games.
The Wolverines will be sending four of his teammates to the tournament, two of which will play for Team USA. Fellow 2021 first-round picks Luke Hughes (defenseman) and Matthew “Mackie” Samoskevich (forward) will be with him and that pre-established chemistry could prove beneficial to Team USA, especially on the power play. The trio has combined for 10 of the 21 Wolverine power-play goals, and nine of the 12 power-play goals in conference play.
Beniers’ play isn’t all that draws comparisons to Toews and Bergeron but also his leadership ability. He is looked at to be the future Kraken franchise cornerstone, possibly even captain, and lead this baby franchise into the future once he makes the jump to pro. This is his time to take the reins and prove that, in the spotlight, he can be the leader he is expected to be.
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Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.