Meet Zach Benson, A Possible Flyers’ Top Draft Pick
The guy who finished second in WHL scoring behind Connor Bedard is ticketed by some experts as a possible Flyers draft pick.
Zach Benson is only 5-foot-10 and 159 pounds with a left-handed shot. He plays left wing and center, positions the Flyers need help.
Benson scored 36 goals and had 62 assists for 98 points in 60 Western Hockey League games. He was second in the WHL with a plus-68.
That Bedard guy, well, he had 71 goals and 143 points in 57 games and was a plus-39.
NHL Central Scouting has Benson ranked the sixth-best North American skater, up from seventh in its midterm ranking. He has great acceleration and shifty moves. His highlight tape shows multiple breakaways.
“My hockey IQ is my greatest asset,” Benson told NHL.com. “I think it’s better than most and it allows me to excel in other facets of my game.
“The biggest thing I worked on over the summer was just getting stronger. I think my in-game strength is huge … I like to win battles down low and all over the ice.”
Benson is from Langley, British Columbia. He has played for the Winnipeg Ice the past three seasons. He also played for Canada’s U18 team that won a gold medal in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He had two goals and five assists in seven games.
With The Seventh Pick …
The mock draft of thesportsbank.com has Benson going to the Flyers at No. 7:
“Benson is a clever, intelligent and also a versatile player. He’s heady and skilled, with the ability to make things happen on both the flank and in the center of the attack.”
sportsnaut.com also has Benson going to the Flyers in its mock draft … “because of their lack of a true center.”
“While there are some in the system, Benson offers a playmaking ability that the Flyers could use. Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino described Benson as ‘a play driver who handles the puck with quick hands. Surprisingly adept at protecting the puck based on his slight frame [5-10, 159 pounds].’ ”
Four mock drafts have Benson going to Arizona at No. 6 — NHL.com, Yahoo Sports, tankathon.com and lines.com — one spot in front of the Flyers.
Mike G. Morreale, of NHL.com, wrote this assessment of Benson:
“A terrific skater and relentless contributor on the forecheck, Benson will go to the tough areas of the ice and always battle hard despite his frame.
“His best asset is his hockey smarts and he’s improved his defensive game playing for Winnipeg coach and former NHL defenseman James Patrick.”
James Patrick’s nephew is former Flyers’ No. 2 overall pick Nolan Patrick.
Logan Horn, of thehockeywriters.com, has Benson slotted to Arizona with the Coyotes’ second first-round pick at No. 12.
“Zach Benson is one of the most underrated forwards in this draft class,” Horn wrote.
“Benson has a motor without an off switch in sight. He’s engaged in the defensive zone, moving to wherever the puck is. He is intense and competitive, which should make him an attractive player to bring into any organization.
“His intensity and drive fuel his ability to win virtually every puck battle that he is a part of.
“Benson is an elite passer with incredible vision. He can seamlessly thread the needle with his crisp 10-foot passes. He can see plays three to four steps before they happen.
“He is one of the smartest players in this draft class. He uses that intelligence on both sides of the puck. He creates chances that lead to scoring opportunities.
“Benson has the floor of a Zach Hyman and the ceiling of a Mitch Marner. Depending on how the team selecting him decides to develop and deploy him, either of those outcomes is equally possible.
“His edge work is reminiscent of Marner; very agile and able to escape pressure through weaving rather than runaway speed.”
Learning From The Best
Benson said he has learned from watching NHL players, thriving on seeing good two-way play.
“Our team does a lot of video, but I think just watching NHL games goes a long way,” Benson told NHL.com. “It helps watching guys like Brayden Point [Lightning] and John Tavares [Leafs] and the little things they do in the defensive zone.
“But they also get the offensive zone production and I think you definitely learn by watching those little things they do.”
Flyers, In Case You Missed It:
State of the Flyers: They need stars and defense.
Flyers likely to play Devils in Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium.
Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky continues amazing playoff run.
Around The National Hockey Network:
Vegas Hockey Now: Former No. 2 overall pick Jack Eichel leads the Golden Knights to the cusp of another Stanley Cup finals appearance. Plus, Dallas fans litter the ice with debris and beer cans during loss to Vegas.
Florida Hockey Now: Injured captain Sasha Barkov could return for Game 4 tonight against the Hurricanes.
Washington Hockey Now: Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Spencer Carbery reportedly is a candidate for the Capitals head-coaching job.
Chicago Hockey Now: Could Blackhawks be a factor if Maple Leafs want to trade Auston Matthews?
Detroit Hockey Now: Red Wings deeply involved at World Championships.
Last Night’s Result:
Vegas jumped on Dallas early and often and took a 3-0 series lead with a 4-0 victory.
Tonight’s Playoff Game:
Game 4: Carolina at Florida, 8, TNT. Hurricanes face long odds trying to overcome Florida’s 3-0 series lead.
Great stuff, Chuck! That was an excellent dive into Benson and one of the potential options at number 7 for the Flyers. Another player with a good motor and what appears to be skill/IQ. Only question might be “the size thing”. Not that every player on the roster needs size, but with younger players (forwards) Brink, Frost, Gendron, Desnoyers not exactly on the big side, that could factor in to the decision. Add York and Andrae on D as well (smaller players). Vet Cam Atkinson is also slight in stature, although less of a concern as he is now in his 30’s. With Benson still young though, you would expect him to fill out a bit. With Gauthier looking like “a player” (and with some size), maybe Benson works in this lineup. We certainly need more skill. Trying to find that right combination for the roster will be something the new front office will need to discuss thoroughly.
Thanks for your comments, Steve. I saw a scout-type say they think Benson can be like Brian Propp. The Flyers would sign up for that. You’re right, their forwards are undersized as a whole — Gauthier and Couturier the notable exceptions.
I spent the morning writing another story on a possible draft pick. Readers seem to enjoy them and they certainly are well-read stories.
I would love another “Guffaw”. 🙂
The articles have been great. You and Sam have provided some excellent coverage. I’m going to make sure a couple of my fellow Flyers fans check things out
Please, let your fellow Flyers fans know about the site. I’m going to keep cranking out stories right through the offseason.
Sam worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer when I worked at the Philadelphia Daily News. We knew each other but didn’t cross paths much. Sam has been tremendous since I’ve taken over this job — as he works on his TV project.
I always was a big admirer of Sam’s work and I knew him to be a class act, too.
Thanks for your comments, Steve.
I love the comments on this potential pick and a whl kid too. One to keep an eye on. Thanks, Chuck, for the great information on possible draft picks.
Thanks for your comments, Not Offsides. This looks like a talent-heavy draft, perfect for a team in need. The Flyers need to hit at No. 7 and down the draft, too.
At 5′-10 & 159 lbs and 18 years old this kid is too small. At his height and age he should be at least 175 lbs. He’s got the makings of another Jack Hughes, slick hands and smooth moves but worthless in the D-zone, attack zone corners and along the boards. At 5′-11″ 175 lbs Jack Hughes was pushed around in the playoffs. There’s no place for undersized players in the playoffs.
I’d feel better about Zach Benson if he were bigger, of course. He gets such universal praise from scouts and guys who do mock drafts, I gotta believe there is something there. His skills seem to be there. Thanks for your comments, Robert.