Buffalo Sabres A to Z: Decisions
2023 first-round pick Zach Benson is changing the discussion with his play in preseason. Now he's making things very interesting about where he should start the season.
To get ready for the upcoming Buffalo Sabres season, I’ll be previewing most of those involved in the eventual successes and failures by going through the alphabet using a different word each time - a revolutionary theme if there ever was one.
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The NHL Draft has facets that make up what a good draft looks like. Scouting and how good it is (or isn’t) goes the furthest, but there’s also preparation and how much so the scouts and executives are for it. Then there’s luck. Like the number 13 can be immensely lucky in drafting when it means landing a potential star player at that position when there was minimal expectation they’d be there.
That’s where the Buffalo Sabres selected Zach Benson at the 2023 draft in Nashville and now nearly a week into training camp, plus another week-plus thanks to rookie camp, Benson is making his presence felt with his performance on the ice to the point where you have to ask if he’ll make the Sabres roster out of camp.
He’s 18 years old but he’s played with the calmness and savvy of a guy 10 years his senior whether he’s played with his peers during the Prospects Challenge or with the top line stars of the NHL so far in preseason.
He can’t really jump the line and go straight to the NHL…can he? After scoring in his NHL preseason debut on Sunday in Washington and assisting on Jeff Skinner’s power play goal Tuesday night, you have to wonder if he can.
“Just about everything (Benson) did leaves a good impression,” Sabres coach Don Granato said following the Sabres 4-1 win against Boston Tuesday night. “Much like I’ve been saying for the past four or five days, you put him with top players, and he can process the game as well as anybody and he showed that again tonight. He has a knack and a sense to read plays, make plays, steal and strip pucks from players that you shouldn’t in this league and in two games he’s been impressive equally both nights.”
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