Fantasy Summary

Undersized but intelligent playmaking forward who makes those around him better. He features a dynamic skill set and has the potential to be an impact player in the NHL.


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January 2024 – Benson has already exceeded expectations for his NHL rookie campaign. The five-foot-ten forward might have been considered too small by some to start the 2023-2024 season in the NHL, but he persuaded many to reconsider that notion during the Buffalo Sabres’ preseason when he scored four goals and seven points, earning himself a nine-game regular-season stint. An injury sustained early during the campaign caused him to miss a few games, but his smart positioning, tenacious style of play and offensive instincts allowed him to contribute early in the season. He scored his first NHL goal on November 22, 2023 against the Washington Capitals — a highlight-reel goal scored from between his own legs. The Sabres decided to keep him on the roster for the full 2023-2024 season. In 38 games so far, he has recorded four goals and fourteen points while averaging fifteen minutes per night of ice time. Kevin Wong

June 2023 – Benson has been selected 13th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2023 NHL Draft. Curtis Rines

April 2023 – Zach Benson is a scout’s dream. He is perhaps the most versatile player in the entire draft class as currently constructed. He reads the ice like few others can and is consistently multiple steps ahead of the play despite being a slightly subpar skater. He is consistently intense and engaged. He may be the class’ best defensive forward. He is also a high-end playmaker with tremendous instincts and habits that tilt the ice in Winnipeg’s favor. He has been the best player on that strong team for two seasons already, despite 2022 top-12 picks Connor Geekie and Matthew Savoie playing alongside him. In our ranking meeting, I was not the only scout on our panel to argue that Benson would have been my first overall pick were he eligible for the 2022 class, his game has certain similarities to Shane Wright’s (though he lacks some of his physical tools) and he plays with significantly more pace, intensity, dynamism, and is a better playmaker. Any team that misses out on the top four will have the option of landing a franchise cornerstone in Benson. Sebastian High

September 2022 – Benson may be undersized at 5-10 and 150 pounds, but his style of play based on intelligent off-puck movements, constant scanning, excellent edgework, and playing through pressure makes his NHL projection a very clear one, and his size isn’t a huge concern. His intelligence is his most outstanding quality. He gathers information with great frequency and consistency with excellent scanning habits, he processes this information at lightning speed, and he executes the best option he finds with great precision, whether it be on or off-puck, offensively or defensively. Benson may just shine brightest when roaming the offensive zone off the puck, searching for openings and biding his time to strike, but don’t think for a second that he isn’t dynamic and lethal with the puck on his stick because he is. Benson’s hands and edges work at the same speed as his mind, which makes him an extremely slippery, adaptable, and dangerous puck carrier. He’s also very composed with the puck on his stick, and he’s constantly scanning for passing and skating lanes to plan his next move, even when he’s under pressure. In transition, he uses his lane-finding ability, intelligence, and puck skills to enter the zone and then uses a refined delay game to cut open defenses, regularly hitting a trailing teammate with a dart of a cross-seam pass. When he hangs on to the puck, he likes to cut to the slot and either shoot from there or pass to a teammate that becomes open due to the attention Benson attracts by attacking a high-danger area.

While his playmaking is his greatest offensive tool, his shot shouldn’t be undersold. His shooting stance can be quite upright and stiff, but his release is quick and accurate. Mechanical refinement will only make it more threatening, still. These upright mechanics are a staple of his skating. Benson does not bend his knees much in his stride, severely limiting his explosiveness and acceleration. His top speed is quite decent, but especially for a player of his stature, the quickness and acceleration need to improve. His edgework provides him with a very solid foundation to build his skating on, however, and the Winnipeg Ice are a good organization that should give Benson all the resources he needs to address this weakness. Defensively, Benson uses his intelligence, edgework, and active stick to break up play and be a net positive in his own zone. There are certainly flashes of passive defensive sequences, but he generally supports his defenders by cutting off passing lanes and hounding the puck carrier. In multiple-variable defensive scenarios, Benson can puck-watch for just long enough for his man to get through on goal, but with his frequent scanning habits, this should iron itself out rather quickly. The positive in this is that Benson is unafraid of trying things; he uses his creativity along with his other aforementioned strengths consistently to push the pace and drive offense. Sebastian High

Fantasy Upside 9.0
NHL Certainty 9.5
Country CAN
Position LW
Roster Type NHL
Shoot/Glove Left
Date of Birth May 12, 2005
Height 5‘10”
Weight 163 lbs
Drafted 2023 Round 1; Overall: 13


 Season Team League GP G A TP PIM      Playoffs GP G A TP PIM 
 2016-2017 Pro Hockey Selects U12WSI U126 3 58 6|        
 2018-2019 Yale Hockey Academy U15 PrepCSSHL U1528 6 1319 12|Playoffs5 1 34
  Draftday Hockey Selects U14WSI U147 0 33 -|        
 2019-2020 Yale Hockey Academy U15 PrepCSSHL U1530 30 5686 26|Playoffs2 3 25
  Yale Hockey Academy Elite 15sCSSHL U165 1 12 0|        
  Yale Hockey Academy U15 PrepJohn Reid Bantam6 10 313 8|        
 2020-2021 Wenatchee Wild WHL24 10 1020 12|        
 2021-2022 Wenatchee Wild WHL58 25 3863 28|Playoffs15 9 1423 10 
 2022-2023 Canada U18Hlinka Gretzky Cup5 2 57 2|        
  Wenatchee Wild WHL60 36 6298 49|Playoffs15 7 1017
 2023-2024 Buffalo SabresNHL71 11 1930 36|        
 2024-2025 Buffalo SabresNHL- - -- -|