Kraken rookie Matty Beniers hit the twenty goal mark on the season with his tally in the 3rd period against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. He’s second among first year NHL players in that category, one goal behind Wyatt Johnston of the Dallas Stars and one ahead of Kirill Marchenko of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Points wise Beniers sits on top. With 50, he’s eight ahead of his closest pursuer, Mason McTavish of the Anaheim Ducks.
While Calder Trophy voters will obviously weigh offensive contributions as part of selecting an NHL rookie-of-the year, they’ll also factor in other important elements. That would be overall impact on wins and losses and the player’s participation in various roles.
Aside from centering the top line at even strength, Beniers is a power play regular and has even gotten a taste on the penalty kill.
“He’s done a nice job on the kill,” Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol said Saturday. “He understands it, I think he enjoys the challenge of it and takes a lot of pride in it. Whether he’s gotten a lot of opportunities or goes out in spot duty, he’s got to do the job and those become real critical shifts.”
Kraken Cool Off
With his goal on Saturday Beniers snapped a 13-game goalless streak.
“It felt good to get that one, but super happy we won, got the two points, that was big,” the 20-year-old said after the game. “but definitely happy about that one.”
Beniers went a full month without lighting the lamp, his most recent previous goal coming on February 23rd at Climate Pledge Arena in a loss to the Boston Bruins.
“That happens in hockey,” he added. “You go a lot of games without scoring, not everyone, but some guys do, but that’s just part of the game, you’ve just gotta get through it, keep playing your game, not thinking about it too much, things like that come.”
His previous longest drought of ten games bridged mid-January to mid-February and came on the heels of one of his hottest streaks. Between January 3rd and the 14th he scored goals in five consecutive games and added another two games later.
“He’s gone through a couple of spells, but if it bothers him he doesn’t show it,” Hakstol said. “He keeps going, he keeps pushing the envelope and playing hard and I think that’s what we all respect about him. He doesn’t get carried away or pushed off balance by different streaks and things like that.”
Beniers is 6-foot-2 and rather slight, but it doesn’t faze his physicality. The team’s top center is fourth in hits (72) among Kraken forwards. Analytically he’s ahead of his ‘expected goals’ pace, his possession numbers are impressive and he has seven more takeaways than giveaways.
What’s most impressive; his penalty minutes differential. Beniers has taken only one minor penalty and drawn 40-minutes worth from opponents. That differential of 38 PIMs in his favor is tied for fourth best in the NHL.
Wins Mean More
The Kraken have earned four of a possible six points in the standings over the first three games of this four-game road trip. After an overtime loss in Dallas and a shoot-out loss in the first of two against the Predators, the Kraken stepped up big to get the 7-2 regulation win on Saturday in Nashville.
Seattle put some distance between themselves and one of their closest Western Conference pursuers.
“This trip is a lot of big games, so it was good for us to feel a little pressure, know it’s a big game and be able to come through,” Beniers said.
The Kraken will try to continue their roll on the road in what should be a very difficult match against the red hot Minnesota Wild in St. Paul on Monday night. Puck drop is a little after 5 pm pacific time.