Matty Beniers impressed in the first ten games of his NHL career this season. The Seattle Kraken’s first-ever draft pick joined the team in mid-April after concluding his NCAA career with the University of Michigan. Here is a look at how his first 10 games went.
Beniers Shows Offensive Ability
Beniers finished his 10-game stint in the NHL with three goals, six assists and nine games. He only failed to record a point in one game, which came against Dallas on Apr. 23, 2022. Of the nine points, four were on the power play, which included two power-play goals. Overall, he produced 18 shots on the net while creating seven individual high danger chances.
The part of Beniers’s offensive game that was most impressive was his confidence with the puck. In his second career game, which came against the New Jersey Devils, he picked up the puck in his own zone and moved the puck into the offensive zone before flipping it over the defender along the boards, collecting it and driving the net for a scoring chance. Then against Vancouver on a five on three, after receiving a pass in the slot from Jared McCann, he had the hockey sense to slide it over to a wide-open Jordan Eberle for a goal instead of shooting from what is considered a prime shooting spot. It’s these types of plays that should get Kraken fans excited as it is clear they have a superstar in the making.
Beniers’ Defensive Play
Beniers has the potential to be one of the top two-way players in the league. He was a force defensively throughout his collegiate and junior career and showed some of those same attributes in the NHL this season. There is still a lot for him to learn about the defensive game in the pros, but these 10 games were a good stepping stone for him.
As for his recorded defensive stats, Beniers registered six takeaways and blocked four shots this season. He also saw 55 seconds of penalty kill time in which the opposition did not produce a shot on goal. Unfortunately, his Corsi for percentage was 46.81%, and the Kraken allowed 28 high danger chances compared to only producing 18 when he was on the ice. He also struggled on faceoffs with a 42.4% win percentage with a 44% win percentage in the defensive zone. Overall, it was a mixed bag when it came to his defensive play.
It takes time for players to adjust to the pro game defensively, so these statistics are not unexpected. There is one game that sticks out, though, that showed how strong his defensive game could be, and that was the Kraken’s 3-2 victory versus the Colorado Avalanche on Apr. 20, 2022. Yes, they were missing Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, but Beniers was able to shut down Colorado whenever he was on the ice. The Avalanche generated zero high danger chances and outshot the Avalanche seven to three when he was on the ice at even strength. He also blocked a shot, created two takeaways and went six for eight in faceoffs, including two for two in the defensive zone. Sure, it was only one game, and Colorado was missing some of their top players, but it was a good confidence booster and showed he has that potential scouts saw before he was drafted.
Chemistry With Eberle
Possibly the most important aspect of what Beniers was able to do this season was find chemistry with Eberle. The two played over 113 minutes together and looked comfortable as linemates. The other member of that line, Ryan Donato, played well with the two, but that right-wing spot may be reserved for Jaden Schwartz when he returns from injury.
This chemistry with Eberle is crucial as the Kraken need to find lines they can consistently roll out next season. This year, no forward line played over 200 minutes this season. Across the league, every team that had one or fewer forward lines play over 200 minutes missed the playoffs. Seattle seems to have found their new top line and can hopefully keep it together for the 2022-23 season.
Beniers Played Above Expected This Season
Not many were expecting Beniers to come in and put up points in nine of his first 10 games. For comparison, some of the other players to accomplish a similar feat include Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Alex Ovechkin. There is still a learning curve that he needs to master. But based on his stint this season, it’s clear the Kraken have found their franchise centerman.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.