With the second selection of the 2021 NHL Draft, the Seattle Kraken have selected Matthew Beniers from the University of Michigan of the NCAA
The highly coveted center from Massachusetts is an excellent passer and displays such a strong two-way game at a young age. He is great in transition, as he uses his elite-level speed to enter the zone with possession and sets up the high-danger plays. He can adapt to any role given to him, as shown by his play with Team USA at the World Juniors and the World Championships. There is a strong chance that he will become the best forward from this draft class.
THW Prospect Profile Expert
“Matt Beniers has been nothing short of amazing this season playing for the University of Michigan. So much so that he’s vaulted to the top of many draft rankings, including my own. Owen Power, Brandt Clarke, Carson Lambos, and Luke Hughes were rightly talked about as first overall picks, but he’s done more than enough to rise above all of them.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
“Beniers’ skills go beyond offence, that’s why he’s going to be such a find for whatever team drafts him this year. He does almost everything at a high level, including smart and effective defence. He’s basically the ultimate two-way threat in every sense of the word. He forechecks like a madman, plays a creative game in all three zones, and has a hockey IQ that rivals the greats. Combine that with his exceptional mobility, playmaking, work ethic, and goal-scoring instincts, and the NHL might just have the next Jonathan Toews on their hands.
“In fact, Beniers’ career is following a similar trajectory as Toews played his freshman season at the University of North Dakota and dazzled with 22 goals and 39 points in 42 games. If this season wasn’t shortened due to the pandemic, Beniers probably would have hit similar numbers, if not better. When you look at a scouting report of Toews back in 2006 and didn’t know it was his, you would think it was a report on Beniers.
“Now you can’t tell me that doesn’t sound like Beniers to a tee. If he becomes even half of what Toews is in the NHL, whichever team ends up drafting him will have a franchise cornerstone for the next ten years.
“Also like Toews, at the young age of 18 years old, Beniers played an integral part in his team’s attack at the World Junior Championship. He played big minutes against much older players and more than held his own. In fact, he stuck out as one of the best players of the tournament finishing with a goal and three points in seven games as Team USA walked away with the gold medal.
“Beniers then returned to Michigan and continued to excel in his freshman season. As of this writing, he has 10 goals and 24 points in 24 games and is on the cusp of doing something great as a potential first-overall pick in July.”
How This Affects the Kraken’s Plans
The Seattle Kraken has selected Beniers as their inaugural draft pick, and he is already their best prospect. He is below Yanni Gourde and Calle Jarnkrok on the Kraken’s depth chart and is expected to return to the University of Michigan next season.
The center will be a fixture in Seattle’s lineup for seasons to come, but they will have to let him develop first. The Kraken can now focus on the remaining seven draft picks in the 2021 NHL Draft.
Jordan Jacklin is a freelance writer who covers the Buffalo Sabres here at The Hockey Writers. Jordan is a student at Ryerson’s Sport Media program and uses analytics and video scouting to evaluate your favourite players in the game.