Matty Beniers hasn’t been hiding. He hasn’t come out of nowhere. Nobody is surprised to see him performing at a high level. He’s had an interesting path this season, and through it all, the talented center has continued to see his draft stock rise.
Beniers has a great cutting motion in his skating, a lot like a running back who can cut back to find open space on the gridiron. Beniers was recently voted the third star for the week in the BIG 10. A recent four-point game against Minnesota helped to raise his stock. His goal was a game-winner and he had three blocks as well. As a true freshman, Beniers can’t take over every game at the NCAA level, not yet, but when he does, it’s something to see.
Going into World Junior Camp, the Massachusetts native knew what he was as a hockey player.
“Just being a hard-working center. That’s what I’m here to do. Just knowing what your strengths are and weaknesses are and playing to your strengths,” Beniers added. “It’s a different pace going from the USHL to college. Nothing has been changing too much, and I’m just trying to get better. I’m just trying to get bigger and stronger and trying to bury chances with my shot. I think my game is improving the way I skate, the way I think the game, the way I move. I can create space for others.
“I worked really hard over the quarantine and worked on putting on weight. I can put on weight, and I lose it when I’m on the ice a lot. I just have to add some weight and muscle.”
Beniers made the right choice to skip Harvard and go to Michigan. If he didn’t, his season would have been lost. It’s a tough loss for the Crimson, but that’s the way it goes in the pandemic era. Beniers led his team in goals and shot percentage in the regular season. He had ten goals and 23 points in 23 games.
Last year, Beniers was part of the NTDP team that scrimmaged the World Junior Championship squad and stood out.
“Everyone went into that scrimmage light-hearted, and we knew we were playing the World Junior team, so we were all buzzing around and making plays. I actually played well which was fun,” Beniers stated. “Just after that game reflecting, it was really cool to play them, and that might be next year for some of us. We might have an opportunity to be in their shoes.”
Fast forward to this year’s camp, and his teammates saw a change in Beniers. “Seeing Matty here in camp, he’s really wowed me on the ice seeing how much he has developed in Michigan. He’s impressed me,” said New York Rangers prospect, Brett Berard.
“He is such a hard worker, and his competitive drive, in practice, is above the rest. He is so shifty and has a great shot. He’s a great all-around player,” said Tyler Kleven, who won a gold medal with Beniers at the 2020 World Junior Championship.
Beniers has a high ceiling. He could go first overall if a team thinks he fills a desperate need at center for their organization. I expect him to go somewhere between 2-7 at the 2021 NHL Draft. Let’s see how his season finishes out.