Zach Benson Should Have the League's Attention

Seattle Thunderbirds v Winnipeg Ice - Game 2
Seattle Thunderbirds v Winnipeg Ice - Game 2 / Jonathan Kozub/GettyImages

As the countdown continues to tick towards Nashville, scouts and media alike are trying to do their best to search through their notes and contacts to determine how the draft may or may not go. There are obvious headlines such as "where will Matvei Michkov ultimately land", however I'd like to talk about one of my favorite players Zach Benson.

In Benson's draft -1 / -2 seasons he played in 82 WHL games producing 83 points for the Winnipeg Ice as an undersized forward (listed at times in the 5'8 range). In his draft season, the outstanding RW nearly had 100 points in just 60 games leading his team to a league best 115 point season.

A 57 win season is quite an accomplishment, it's even more so being led by a draft eligible undersized wing when his teammates are already highly drafted veterans such as Matthew Savoie, Carson Lambos, Conor Geekie, and Zack Ostapchuk. Those are 4 future NHL contributors and Zach Benson was the main catalyst for them.

It's Bensons compete level that stands out above all of his other skill traits for me. His play at 17 reminds me of when after a few seasons Alex DeBrincat really turned it on when he was playing defense, backchecking, and using his stick-lift to gain possession.

While Benson can score in a variety of ways, it's actually his ability to extend a play to make the correct pass that attracts me to his potential as an elite NHL winger though. The vision and offensive IQ while creating opportunities to extend a drive are at the top of the class for me.

Recently, at the NHL combine, Zach Benson actually measured at the exact same height as Connor Bedard. This was one of the more shocking reveals as I believed Benson would come at around an inch to an inch and 1/4 lower than his nearly 5'10 stature. I believe that this should help him and his stock in the eyes of NHL executives.

In our Blackhawk Up community mock, Zach Benson went 8th to the Washington Capitals just edging out Dalibor Dvorsky by a few votes. This is likely the range in which Benson will go, 8th-11th range, if you follow the consensus of media publications.

As a long proponent of his potential in the league though, I believe that Zach Benson should firmly be in play for Montreal at #5, Arizona at #6, and Philadelphia at #7. This kid is special to me. The league has changed over the years and undersized players like Alex DeBrincat, Mats Zuccarello, Johnny Gaudreau, Cole Caufield, and Patrick Kane are thriving as play driving forwards.

Zach Benson is an amazing talent, one in which I think teams will regret passing on him quickly. Will the Blackhawks have a chance to grab him in the draft, most likely he'll be long gone before we'd get the opportunity as well as the management quotes on skating (Benson is a fair skater, especially east-west on his edges, however he is not an elite skater by any measure).

Benson is listed as low as #14 in some "experts" eyes still. I believe those same experts will be eating their words in future re-draft articles.