2022-23 Team: Winnipeg ICE
Date of Birth: May 12, 2005
Place of Birth: Langley, British Columbia, Canada
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 159 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2023 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 6th (amongst North American skaters)
- The Hockey Writers (Horn): 6th
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 5th
- FC Hockey: 5th
- TSN/McKenzie: 5th
- Elite Prospects: 5th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 7th
- Dobber Prospects: 5th
- Sportsnet: 6th
- The Hockey News: 9th
Zach Benson is one of the most underrated forwards in this draft class. He was second in Western Hockey League scoring amongst draft-eligible players behind some guy named Connor Bedard. In 60 games played he totalled 36 goals and 62 assists for 98 points. In any of the three previous draft classes, he would have been a candidate for first overall.
Benson has a motor without an off switch in sight. He’s engaged in the defensive zone, moving to wherever the puck is. He is intense and competitive, which should make him an attractive player to bring into any organization. His intensity and drive fuel his ability to win virtually every puck battle that he is a part of.
Related: THW’s 2023 NHL Draft Guide
Benson is an elite passer with incredible vision. He can seamlessly thread the needle with his crisp 10-foot passes. He can see plays three to four steps before they happen. He is one of the smartest players in this draft class. He uses that intelligence on both sides of the puck. He creates chances that lead to scoring opportunities.
Benson has the floor of a Zach Hyman and the ceiling of a Mitch Marner. Depending on how the team selecting him decides to develop and deploy him, either of those outcomes is equally possible. His edgework is reminiscent of Marner; very agile and able to escape pressure through weaving rather than runaway speed.
Other THW Profiles
Zach Benson – NHL Draft Projection
Most draft experts have Benson going in the top 10. The range is from 5th-7th. Given his size and the NHL’s overexcitement with big forwards, he might be one who drops out of the top 10 on draft day.
“Benson is a terrific distributor of the puck. He uses a variety of different pass types to successfully execute different plays. Like I mentioned above, he is great at dishing little 5-10ft passes from below the goal line and is extremely precise when doing so.” – Ben Jordan, Smaht Scouting
Latest News & Highlights
“He reads the ice like few others can and is consistently multiple steps ahead of the play despite being a slightly subpar skater. He is consistently intense and engaged. He may be the class’ best defensive forward. He is also a high-end playmaker with tremendous instincts and habits that tilt the ice in Winnipeg’s favor.” – Sebastian High, Dobber Prospects
“On top of that, however, he has a good shot and strong playmaking abilities. He pushes pace when necessary and can hit teammates in high-danger areas. However, he also slows things down and can make safe, smart plays to extend offensive zone possession. Benson does not flash very often, and his shooting isn’t anything to write home about. But he knows how to find open space with consistency, attacks the high-danger areas, and uses his skating to generate chances off the rush.” – Kyle Pereira, Last Word On Hockey
- Hockey IQ
- Puck handling
- Defensive commitment
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Benson’s floor is a top-six forward. He has the potential to be an elite forward with solid two-way tendencies who scores at a point-per-game pace.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8/10, Defence – 7/10
- 2022-23 gold medal at the Hlinka Gretzky tournament