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2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Matthew Beniers is a complete center

Another elite prospect from the University of Michigan. Sigh.

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Russia v United States: Preliminary Round Group B - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

We are less than a month away from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft (July 23-24), so it’s time to start researching the prospects likely to be selected in the first round. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently hold three picks in that round: #5, #24, and #30 or #31.

Matthew Beniers

Position: Center
Team: University of Michigan (Big Ten)
Date of Birth: November 5, 2002
Birthplace: Hingham, Massachusetts
Height: 6’ 2”
Weight: 175
Shoots: Left


Ranked #4 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #18 by NEUTRAL ZONE
Ranked #2 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #6 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #2 by SPORTSNET’S
Ranked #4 by TSN/McKenzie

2020-21 Stats

Games Played: 24
Goals: 10
Assists: 14
Points: 24
PIM: 0

Yesterday we profiled Owen Power, and there’s a lot in common between him and today’s feature, Matthew Beniers. They were born just days apart and are currently teammates at Michigan. Both have good size, though Beniers is still well below Power’s gargantuan height. Each played for his senior national team at the World Championships, with Power taking gold with Canada and Beniers taking bronze with Team USA (Beniers took gold in the World Juniors). Neither has a single stand-out skill, but does a wide range of things well, and thus is a near lock to go into the top 5.

My concern is that Beniers’ stock is rising such that he will be off the board before Columbus gets to pick. He would be the #1 center we need to replace Pierre-Luc Dubois. One thing that stands out to me is that throughout his development he has consistently been a point-per-game player at each level. Will he be able to translate that to the NHL, and if so, how quickly? His World Juniors linemate Cole Caufield has made the transition look easy. (This Scott Wheeler article from January is a nice profile of Beniers)

Scouting Reports

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.

Also an explosive and powerful skater, Beniers will start the forecheck and hunt for pucks. Likened to a machine, when Beniers is moving in the offensive zone, he is difficult to stop. He is a force in corners and extremely difficult to battle for pucks. Beniers also has the ability to carry pucks into the offensive end. He will use his mobility, edgework, and size to blow past defenders in one-on-one situations. - LaurenKelly24, Raw Charge

Has refined a complete skill set at Michigan and looks ready to center an NHL line; Excellent skating mechanics that help him navigate the offensive zone with ease, analyzing passing and shooting lanes; Carves towards open ice to find good puck support positions. - EricD, On the Forecheck

He’s a dynamic, high-pace transporter of the puck; one who accelerates with linear and nonlinear crossovers through a wide array of rush patterns and tempo changes to maneuver past opposing defenders. He never cheats. Beniers is always involved in his team’s defensive game, showing high-level details, defensive problem-solving ability, and switchability. - Elite Prospects

His work ethic shows through how hard he forechecks and backchecks, how every play is made with speed, how he wins a ton of battles, and how fearless he is getting to the high-traffic areas. Beniers wills his way to puck possession and scoring chances, while also able to set up a lot of plays. In a sentence, Beniers projects as a top-two line center, a No. 2 on a Stanley Cup contender or a low-end No. 1, who can score at a reasonable rate for those roles and provide high-end value off the puck. - Corey Pronman, The Athletic

While he doesn’t have the hands or feel that a [Kent] Johnson has, nor the finishing touch of a Chaz Lucius or a Cole Sillinger, nor the heaviness of a Mason McTavish, he’s got enough skill across the board to take pucks to the net, facilitate to his linemates off the cycle, and finish in tight. And though his offensive numbers may not pop at his ceiling, he’s going to drive a line, lead exits and entries, get pucks to whoever he’s playing with, and pull his team into the fight. Beniers is the best two-way player in the draft. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic