When skill beats size
The Sabres selection of WHL star scorer Zach Benson gives them another outstanding offensive performer under six-feet tall in their prospect pool.
NASHVILLE — When Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk was running roughshod over opponents throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it set the tone for the next trend to come for NHL teams. Tkachuk was such a difference maker in helping the Panthers beat the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Carolina Hurricanes that the idea of having a Tkachuk-like player of your own would be the key for teams looking to take a big step towards the top.
The 2023 Draft offered a lot of intriguing forwards with size and skill to inspire those looking to make that kind of splash. Leo Carlsson, Adam Fantilli, Matthew Wood, Ryan Leonard, and Danil But all stand out, literally, but chasing the dragon of a Tkachuk-like player is a fool’s errand. There’s no one like him. It’s what makes Buffalo taking aim at the best player available, size be damned, so interesting.
The Sabres selected 5’10”, 170-pound Winnipeg Ice forward Zach Benson showed they don’t care about trends and that the idea they’re too small in the pipeline is just silly. The one thing at the front of their mind is getting the most talent possible and make sure they’re wearing blue and gold in the years to come.
“One of the things that I thought was interesting as we were going through our scouting meetings, every single scout that had watched (Benson) over the course of the last basically two years—because remember how many times we saw him in the Savoie draft as well—said they just generally walked away from the game saying he was the best player on the ice,” Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said. “No matter what or who the scout was or when they saw him.
“Ultimately, these are kids that you’re looking for projection. You’re not just looking for what they are today. And we think he’s going to project into a really good NHL hockey player.”
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