NHL Prospect Report

Michigan's Matthew Beniers is already playing like an NHL veteran

If Elite Prospects were to remake its 2021 draft board today, my first overall vote might change from William Eklund to Matty Beniers

Eklund's stint in the NHL this season reinforced my belief that he will become one of the better wingers in hockey in a few years. He has all the tools necessary to build that career for himself. But it's hard to ignore Beniers' play with the Michigan Wolverines this season. He looks like a seasoned NHLer playing college hockey. 

Beniers wanted that extra year in college. And the choice made sense for multiple reasons. 

His NHL readiness was in doubt last year; it felt like his game could still develop in many ways, especially offensively. He also had an NCAA title to chase. Michigan was forced out of the end-of-year tournament last year due to multiple COVID-19 cases. By returning along with Owen Power and Kent Johnson, Beniers made it a likely possibility that he will walk away as an NCAA Champion this season. 

He also assured himself of a spot with the US team at the upcoming IIHF World Junior Under-20 Championships, where he could grab a second gold medal. 

But even if the choice to go back was right at the time it's become clear in the past few months that Beniers could have contributed to the Seattle Kraken as soon as this year. His game has a maturity that we rarely see in prospects his age.

Every time he steps on the ice, he makes the game easier for his team with his positioning and dynamic qualities.

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