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Matty Beniers Brings Much More Than a Stat Line to Seattle

The first pick in Seattle Kraken history could very well be the team's first true number one center. Get ready for Matty Beniers.
Matty Beniers

The first pick in Seattle Kraken history could very well be their first true number one center. 

The freshly signed Matty Beniers brings everything you want in a player both on and off the ice. A dual-threat center who has ‘Future Captain’ written all over him, Beniers may be the ray of sunshine that the rainy Seattle needed.

Beniers had an excellent season with the Michigan Wolverines, leading the team in scoring despite leaving for a short period of time to participate in the Olympics for the United States. Among other accolades, Beniers was a Hobey Baker finalist and earned first-team all-Big-10 and first-team all-American honors.

So, yeah, you can call that a success.

Beniers and Michigan lost out in the Frozen Four, which saw the disbandment of many of the main core pieces of that team. Gone were Beniers, Owen Power and Kent Johnson, three of the best young prospects in the game that all happened to play together. 

Beniers' polished and refined game allowed him the opportunity to play for the American Olympic team where he was able to collect two points in four games. This isn’t a young player who will step onto the big stage and try to do too much or be the hero. The young American understands how important it is to be effective in all facets of the game.

Beniers' first Olympic experience likely isn’t what he had hoped. Despite his team losing in the quarterfinals and going home empty-handed, Beniers was far from the reason his team underperformed what was expected from a young, feisty American squad. His brand of smart, high-paced hockey with proficiency at both ends of the rink was evident.

Defensively, Beniers has one of the most instinctive minds outside of the NHL. The newly signed center uses his speed and agility to pressure opposing puck carriers, forcing mistakes regularly. Despite still needing to fill out his frame (6-foot-1, 174 pounds), Beniers is quite strong along the boards. Part of that has to do with an impressive level of strength for a player who still has room to mature physically and part of it has to do with an advanced understanding of body position.

Beniers is consistently analyzing what is happening on the ice, putting himself on the right side of the puck and then utilizing his skill and motor to outwork and outmaneuver the opposition. When defending the neutral zone, Beniers is persistent and aggressive in closing space and forcing opposing puck carriers to take alternate routes or offload the puck via pass or dump in. Beniers limits clean entries and ensures that his team has a chance to turn play around quickly.

Beniers identifies lanes through the neutral zone and uses his crossovers effectively to alter the angle defenders take on him. His already impressive speed should improve even more as he begins to get stronger and build on his frame.

Beniers is an efficient forechecker who takes excellent routes to the puck. The newest Kraken forward hunts down loose pucks like a lion stalking its prey. He can seemingly come from nowhere to swoop in, using his quickness and agility to separate the man from the puck with crafty stick lifts or by establishing body position between the defender and the puck below the goal line.

In the offensive zone, Beniers is engaged at all times. He isn’t the type of player that coasts around aimlessly awaiting his opportunity. Working off the boards, Beniers is crafty with his escapability. Thanks in part to his high-end skating ability, he has the option to roll off defenders pressuring him or cut back against the grain to drive down the boards further. Beniers has active shoulder fakes that keep him deceptive and aid in space creation in the offensive zone. 

Beniers shows legitimate dual-threat ability, although neither his playmaking or goalscoring projects as truly elite. Beniers value offensively comes from his ability to do a bit of everything at an above-average level.

Do you want him working in space with the puck on his stick looking to find teammates? He can do that. Do you want him stalking the offensive zone off puck to find pockets of space to exploit as a goal scorer? He has no issues doing so. Is he needed below the goal-line, working to hunt the puck down and find a teammate in the slot? Beniers has you covered. Whatever you ask of the Kraken’s top prospect, he will find a way to fill that need.

Will Beniers ever be a 90-point center that can alter the game in a moment's notice? Not likely. That doesn’t mean he can’t be incredibly impactful though. Patrice Bergeron has a career-high 79-points but it’s unarguable that he affects every game the Bruins have had him in the lineup for the better part of two decades. That's not to say Beniers will make it to Bergeron's level, but he has a bright future ahead.

Get ready Kraken fans, Seattle is about to find out just how valuable Beniers is because some words on a page just won’t do it justice. 

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