Kraken’s Matty Beniers Worthy of Winning The Calder Trophy

As the 2022-23 regular season winds down, it has become clear that Matty Beniers has all but wrapped up the Calder Trophy. The 2021 second-overall pick leads all rookies with 19 goals and 47 points and is on his way to becoming just the second American to win the award in the last decade. He was also voted as the Kraken’s representative for the All-Star Game but was unable to attend due to injury. Here is a look at his stellar campaign to date.

Beniers’ Strong Offensive Season

As mentioned, Beniers is the leader among rookies with 47 points which is 10 points ahead of Mason McTavish who sits in second place. While his point total is impressive, what really sticks out is his ability to collect points at even strength. In his 62 games played, he has 38 even strength points which not only leads all rookies, but has him tied for 43rd across the league with players like Steven Stamkos, Jack Eichel and Evgeni Malkin. His 15 even-strength goals also lead all rookies and are tied for 65th in the league with eight others including Leon Draisaitl, Erik Karlsson, Filip Forsberg and Kevin Fiala. Once he starts producing on a more regular basis on the power play, there is no question he can be a point-per-game player based on the success he has had at even strength this season.

Matty Beniers Seattle Kraken
Matty Beniers, Seattle Kraken (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

When Beniers’ statistics are broken down further, it shows just how consistent at even strength he has been all season. Among skaters who have played at least 800 minutes, his 2.58 points per 60 ranks 34th while his 16.85% shooting percentage ranks 18th. At just 20 years old, he has already become one of the top even-strength producers which shows just how high his offensive ceiling is.

Beniers’ Defensive Play

This season, Beniers has done a great job of showing off his two-way game. His 41 blocked shots rank fourth among rookie forwards while his 41 takeaways are just five off Noah Cates for the rookie lead. He also has the fifth highest plus/minus among rookies with a plus-9 and has only been on the ice for 49 total goals in over 1,050 minutes of total ice time or 2.63 goals against per 60 minutes. Despite the Kraken having a save percentage lower than 90% when he is on the ice, he has been one of the best rookies when it comes to limiting shots, chances, and high-danger chances against.

Related: Kraken’s Beniers, Dunn and McCann Are Team MVP Favorites

One of the best ways to determine a player’s defensive play is by using the advanced statistic, expected goals against. The reason is it takes out the outcome of the play, i.e. if a shot was saved or a goal was scored and focuses on whether or not the players on the ice were in the proper position to prevent the play from happening. Of all rookies who have played 400 minutes or more at even strength, Beniers ranks 12th with an expected goals against per 60 (xGA/60) of 2.65. When looking at non-rookie comparables from across the league he has the same xGA/60 as Jared McCann and Charlie McCavoy while having a slightly lower total than David Pastrnak, Adam Fox and Jack Hughes. His defensive game has continued to improve throughout the season, and while he may not be in the Selke conversation yet, he has a good chance to be in a few seasons if he can continue to develop his two-way game.

Calder May Not Be Only Trophy For Beniers This Season

Based on his play, Beniers may also receive votes for the Lady Byng Trophy. This award is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) and is given out to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability. Previous winners include Kyle Connor, Jaccob Slavin, Wayne Gretzky and Pavel Datsyuk.

Through 62 games this season, Beniers has accumulated a grand total of two penalty minutes. His only penalty of the season came on Dec. 1, 2022, versus the Washington Capitals when he was given two minutes for interference during the third period. The Kraken killed off that penalty and later, he made up for it by scoring the game-winner in overtime.

Related: Kraken’s Beniers Showed Why He Is Future Face of Franchise

Of the 892 players who have played this season, only Beniers has played more than 60 games and has two or fewer penalty minutes. He also has the fewest penalty minutes per 60 of anyone who has taken a penalty this year at 0.11 and total penalties taken per 60 at 0.06. If he stays out of the box for the rest of the regular season and wins the award, he will become the 17th player to win the Lady Byng Trophy while having two or fewer penalty minutes throughout the regular season.

Beniers Deserves The Calder

While the season is not over, it would be shocking to see someone other than Beniers win the Calder. He has been everything the Kraken hoped for and more in his first full season and is developing into one of the best young centers across the NHL. Expect his name to be announced on June 26 in Nashville and become the youngest Calder winner since Elias Pettersson in 2019.

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