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Unlike others recently featured in this space, chances are quite high that Zach Benson will still be on the board when the Habs speak at pick #5. However, it would be somewhat surprising to see the Habs spend their pick on the ultra-skilled but diminutive player and that could be a mistake. Benson has the tools to find himself in the NHL in a relatively short time period when compared to others ranked ahead of him, and he holds the potential to be a very Nikita Kucherov-like point producer.

Stylistically, he would be a dream as that missing winger next to Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki, other than the size factor, of course. The idea of Benson comes with mixed feelings because his talent is undeniable, but with Caufield already on the top line, another diminutive but skilled player might be seen as counter-productive for some around the team. Also, Benson did see a reduced production rate in the second half of his season which has hurt his stock in such a highly touted class. To be fair, let’s be clear that his reduced production was going from a near 2 PPG player to only a 1 PPG player. He was second in the WHL in scoring this season, behind another prospect that the Habs won’t get to consider in Conor Bedard. 


Shoots: Left
DOB: May 12, 2005
Height: 5′ 10”
Weight: 160 lbs 


Elite Prospects: 5
Future Considerations: 6
Daily Faceoff: 5
The Hockey News: 9
TSN (Bob McKenzie): 5
TSN (Craig Button): 6
NHL Central Scouting (NA): 6
Sportsnet: 7
Recruit Scouting: 4
Dobber Prospects: 5
Draft Prospects Hockey: 6
Smaht Scouting: 5 


Scouting Report

Benson’s floor is a top-6 winger with his ceiling being the point-per-game player that will lift fans out of their seats. The most notable comparison given is often that of Mitch Marner as Benson will utilize his edgework and deceptiveness to elude defenders instead of his top-end speed. The Marner similarities don’t end there as Benson’s main attribute is his ability to distribute the puck to the open teammate and his ability to see the play a few steps ahead of everyone else.

Where Benson could improve is without a doubt his ability to physically battle for pucks, unsurprising for a forward under six feet and weighing in at only 160 lbs. Benson is an exciting prospect that just completed a highly productive season in the WHL scoring 98 points in 60 games before producing 17 points in 15 playoff contests. While his stock has remained steady in the 6-8 range since before the season, he did cool off in the second half of the season after averaging nearly two points per game in the first half. Add that to questions around his top-end skating speed and a size disadvantage and it explains why players like Will Smith have vaulted over him in the projected rankings and some are predicting that if teams draft for need, Benson could be the odd man out that ends up outside the top-10. 


Benson’s impressive hockey IQ and compete levels make him an interesting prospect that should challenge for an NHL job immediately. Add in that he’s described as defensively responsible, and he has all the makings of a Nick Suzuki in my opinion. By that, I mean that the team that drafts him will be able to slot lower in the lineup while he learns the NHL game, won’t get penalized for it because he is so responsible, and he’ll quickly win over the coaching staff and make himself an important part of the roster that gains in trust and responsibilities as the season progresses.

The question of his timeline is likely to depend entirely on where he is selected, but if that ends up being Montreal, I could easily see Benson slotting in the middle of Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Brendan Gallagher to start the season with some important power play minutes mixed in, making the presence of one Christian Dvorak somewhat questionable to even start the season.