2023 NHL Draft: Zach Benson, a future Martin St-Louis?

2023 NHL Draft: Zach Benson, a future Martin St-Louis?

UPDATE DAY

WINNIPEG | Connor Bedard monopolizes the attention of recruiters and the media in anticipation of the next draft. However, we must not forget the other hopefuls like Zach Benson, who has several points in common with a certain Martin St-Louis.

Despite his small frame (5 feet 10 inches and 159 lb), the Winnipeg ICE forward has a good chance of being selected among the top ten players at the next amateur auction. He's been waiting for this moment for a long time.

At 17, he is already in his third season in the West League. He lives well with the pressure of being scrutinized by NHL scouts every game. 

“It's good pressure,” said Zach Benson during our visit to training for ICE, one of the powers in the West League. I just have to keep my good habits while showing up at the arena with a smile.

“I focus on what I do best. I want to present my best skills to the recruiters.

He has no preference for the identity of the team that will set his sights on him. 

“ It doesn't matter which team selects me, I'll be happy. It will be unreal. Since I grew up in Canada, it would definitely be exciting to evolve in one of the seven Canadian markets. Fans are passionate.”

Superior Intelligence

When talking about Benson to his coach, the first compliment comes quickly. 

“I'm in my sixth year as a junior coach and Zach is the smartest player I've ever seen. directed, analyzes James Patrick. He reminds me a bit of Martin St-Louis. He's small, but his way of looking at the game more than makes up for it. 

“He's got good hands and he's nimble with his feet. He plays well both ways of the rink. He uses his stick well to build or break games.”

With such a complete player on hand, Patrick is able to use him in all the sauces. 

“He is my best player on the penalty kill,” he says. He does the small details well. He's a good skater, but I have a feeling he'll be even better in a few years when he's put on a few pounds. It will be more explosive.”

Examples of choice

Benson doesn't have to look far for advice on attacking his draft year. His teammates Matthew Savoie and Conor Geekie were drafted in the first round of the last NHL draft auction. 

“Zach saw the way Matt and Conor handled their draft year. He could see them when they had media attention or during their conversations with recruiters. It will definitely help him. 

“All that matters is what you do on the ice. I want him to have fun. The rest will follow.”

The main interested party is also trying to follow the advice of Peyton Krebs with whom he played in his debut in the WHL. 

“His work ethic was simply incredible, underlines Benson. After all the matches, he taught me to train even if I was tired. He always told me that it would help me for my season, but also for my future.”

Bedard, an old acquaintance

WINNIPEG | Hockey is a small world. Zach Benson played some of his minor hockey with Connor Bedard in British Columbia.

The two attackers know each other very well. Despite all the attention that has been brought to Bedard for two years, Benson does not feel complexed. On the other hand, we are able to see his competitive side come out a little.  

“He always had a special talent, explains the 17-year-old athlete. Everyone has been talking about him since he was 6 years old. He is amazing.

“I love playing against the Regina Pats to face him. Every time you're on the rink with him, you want to earn your presence.”

Benson has character on and off the rink. Bedard's presence forces him to become a better player. 

“Zach knows Connor well and he knows how good he is,” says James Patrick. He knows how he should compare to him. He wants to be the best. 

“In his head, he knows he can do the same type of things as Bedard on an ice rink. Zach is confident in his abilities, but he also has an ego.

“He is very competitive. He wants to prove that he is good. He wants to impress scouts every night.”

Hockey rides

Interesting fact about Benson: His family owns a company that organizes fairs and carnivals throughout Western Canada. 

West Coast Amusements is based in Chilliwack, British Columbia. 

< p> “I grew up in a family that didn't really have a tradition in hockey other than listening to it as a family. I started skating when I was 3 or 4 years old. I also played street hockey and roller hockey. I loved it.”

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