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Matt Calkins: Will Seattle fans be chanting Kraken draft pick Matty Beniers' name next season?

Matt Calkins, The Seattle Times on

Published in Hockey

SEATTLE — Despite what the draft board says, it's Matty Beniers. He never felt like a Matthew or a Matt, so Matty it is.

It's better that way, though, isn't it? If you're going to be Seattle's next sports superstar, it's nice to have a distinct first name.

No, this column isn't saying Beniers is a lock to become a perennial All-Star or Hart Trophy candidate. He's 18, could use another 20 pounds of muscle and might not even play in the NHL next year.

But with all the Kraken craze pervading Seattle, why not wonder just how spectacular this kid could be? Why not imagine a day when Matty Mania sweeps the city?

The Kraken drafted the left-handed center with the No. 2 overall pick in the NHL entry draft Friday. The pick came after Beniers dominated the NCAA at Michigan in a COVID-19-shortened season.

His Wolverines teammate, Owen Power, was selected first overall, but there were a few mock drafts that had Beniers in that top spot. Stick the Space Needle on top of the Columbia Center, and you'll get a glimpse of his ceiling.

 

"With the way he competes each and every day, the way he skates, his skill set, we just thought he was the perfect fit to start our franchise," Kraken general manager Ron Francis said. "We think he's got a huge upside, and we're working to help him hopefully attain that in the next few years."

Here's what to know about Matty on the ice: He scored 24 points in 24 games last season for Michigan — ranked eighth in the country — and was tied for first on the team in goals. He won a gold medal with Team USA at the IIHF World Junior Championship this year.

He's a speedy skater who can crunch you with a check, but is perhaps more acclaimed for his instincts and creativity. And given that he is about as adept defensively as he is offensively, he could end up being hockey's version of the Clippers' Kawhi Leonard.

Here's what to know about Matty off the ice: He is pre-med at Michigan and has always been fascinated with science. His latest interest is dermatology, and he is enamored by the show Dr. Pimple Popper. Francis praised his character and strong family background. And though he likes the Seahawks, they pale compared with the team in his home state of Massachusetts.

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