Matthew Zator The Hockey Writers
Matthew Beniers – 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile
2020-21 Team: Michigan Wolverines (#10)
Date of Birth: Nov 5, 2002
Place of Birth: Hingham, MA, USA
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 174 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: A-Level Prospect
- FC Hockey: 7th
- TSN/McKenzie: 4th
- Elite Prospects: 3rd
- Dobber Prospects: 16th
- McKeen’s Hockey: 1st
- Smaht Scouting: 1st
- The Hockey Writers (Zator): 1st
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 1st
- The Hockey Writers (Forbes): 1st
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.
Pretty complete package for his age and should only get better as he gets stronger. He skates well, handles the puck comfortably, makes plays and can finish. He displayed a bit of an edge and is not afraid to give and take contact. He also has good size and is solid on his skates.Scouting report from a Chicago Blackhawks scout
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.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Matthew Beniers – NHL Draft Projection
In this crazy and unpredictable COVID-19 world, Beniers could possibly go first overall. If he was in last year’s draft he probably would have been selected in the top-ten, but here he is a definite contender for the king of the mountain. His extremely well-rounded game will be difficult for general managers to ignore come draft day.
“Beniers grades out well across the board, but rarely plays in a flashy style that brings you out of your seat. He has skill that can easily play in a top six and likely in a top line role as well, albeit less likely in a role wherein he has to carry the offensive load singlehandedly. He combines skill, energy and power to force countless errors from his opponents and is always ready to capitalize on those errors, making clear that his disruptiveness is intentional and planned out.” – Ryan Wagman, McKeens Hockey
“He’s a dynamic centerman that you just want to have controlling the puck on every zone entry. He is a player that you really have to nitpick to find any real downfalls to his game. His creativity, elusiveness, and all-around smarts make him a dangerous player every time he steps in the offensive zone, with or without the puck. The one aspect that Beniers gets critiqued for is that he isn’t a very flashy player, but it clearly is not hindering his game in the slightest.” – Dylan Griffing, Dobber Prospects
“Beniers is an excellent 200-foot player who is always involved in play, even when he isn’t putting up points. He plays both special teams and solid in the faceoff circle. Always seemingly in the right areas of the ice, Beniers reads both his teammates and opponents well. Both a scorer and a playmaker, Beniers is an instinctual player, which allows him to create and find spaces that others may not see at first.” – Lauren Kelly, Raw Charge
- Hockey IQ
- Two-way game
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Other than lacking a bit of flash and excitement, Beniers really doesn’t have any obvious flaws to his game. He’s just a solid all-around talent with a bright future in the NHL. His high-end competitiveness and motor alone are exciting enough in my mind.
If all goes to plan, Beniers could become another Toews or Bergeron in the NHL. He’s got the skills and work ethic to be a top-line center that can be counted upon in all situations and consistently put up 70-75 points a year in a starring role. He will also be one of his team’s best faceoff men each and every season.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8/10, Defence – 8/10
Beniers won a gold medal with Team USA at the 2020 World Junior Championship and was named to the NCAA (B1G) All-Rookie Team. He was also an honorable mention for the NCAA (B1G) All-Star Team during the 2019-20 season.
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