The Seattle Kraken selected Michigan center Matthew Beniers with the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NHL entry draft on Friday.
The 18-year-old from Massachusetts is the second Wolverines player selected in this year's class after defenseman Owen Power went first overall to the Buffalo Sabres. In 24 games last year, Beniers notched 10 goals and 14 assists, though Michigan's season was cut short because of a COVID-19 outbreak that forced the program to withdraw from the NCAA tournament ahead of the first round.
Beniers also spent part of last year as a member of Team USA, winning gold at the World Junior Championships in January as well as a bronze medal at the World Championships in June. He combined for two goals and three assists over 13 international games.
NHL Central Scouting ranked Beniers the sixth-best North American skater in this year's class while The Athletic's Corey Pronman was a tad more bullish, ranking him No. 5.
"Beniers is the top center prospect in this draft. He has a quality NHL-caliber skill set but not a lot jumps off the page. He is a top prospect because he is an elite competitor and makes the most of his toolkit every game. ... Beniers wills his way to puck possession and scoring chances, while also able to set up a lot of plays. In a sentence, Beniers projects as a top-two line center, a No. 2 on a Stanley Cup contender or a low-end No. 1, who can score at a reasonable rate for those roles and provide high-end value off the puck."
He'll look to reach that level of play as a member of the Kraken next season.
Seattle general manager Ron Francis laid the foundation for Seattle's foundation during the expansion draft. In Beniers, the franchise will hope to have the cornerstone of its future.