As NCAA Free Agency rages on, what with a lot of the really good teams suddenly now cut down to Denver and Minnesota State in the Frozen Four, speculation has raged regarding Matthew Beniers and his possible signing to an Entry Level Contract for the Kraken...or rather, the fact that despite the rash of signings for every player possible who could so far, particularly from Beniers’ UMich squad, Beniers himself seems to have avoided receiving a contract at the same time that Owen Power or Nick Blankenburg or Michael Pastujov did.
While it might seem like indolence on the part of a team with nothing to lose (because they’ve done enough of that already), I think it’s not a bad idea to maybe wait a little bit to offer Matty B his first professional contract.
And here’s why.
There’s a non-zero chance he decides to stay another year at Michigan
Ron Francis knows that there’s a good chance he ends up with more players on the Wolverines in the future, and Beniers, who’s finished his freshman year with 43 points in 37 games and led the team in offense by an individual player, is the kind of guy that could be invaluable to a team as loaded with NHL prospects as Michigan is, continuing a long standing tradition of the Public Ivy being a haven for hockey players who’ve maybe completed the equivalent a public school education.
Hey, they didn’t come to play school, right?
But Beniers isn’t just the future of the Kraken, he’s arguably the future of Michigan hockey — because so far every player who isn’t Beniers has signed an ELC, meaning that many of them are done with college and moving straight to the pros, possibly forever. Of a 26 man roster, 13 of whom are prospects for the NHL, and two of the five best players on this team just went to go get some NHL money just like that.
Further, unlike the Canadian Juniors which are often awash in early-age teenagers and teams coached by unrepentant man-children named Billy who are often the owner’s son, college hockey seems to recognize that it needs to take itself seriously unless it decides it super does not need to, and the teams show up ready to play with big 6’1 at minimum players who play a tight, difficult to crack system that, if you’re trying to build the two way, defense-and-offense center of the 2020’s, you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else outside of maybe Sweden’s national league.
If the Kraken decided that they would wait for 2023 for Matty B’s debut and play the patient game, I wouldn’t be shocked at all, given the treasure trove of learning experiences you can get from having to play Minnesota in-division every other month.
There isn’t much point to having him debut as soon as possible
Let’s be clear, the only thing you’re doing by signing and then debuting Matty Beniers right now is a light boost in ticket sales and a little injection of hope, because while I love how quickly and how professionally Beniers has developed as a prospect, the problem he faces is a very simple one; he can’t fix everything. Some of the Kraken’s problems aren’t at his position, and most of them are a little bigger than an individual player.
Some of them might be stemming from one or two players specifically that aren’t counted as skaters. Whatever he brings, and he does bring a lot of very good things that we should be excited about, he needs as much help as Ron Francis can provide. That means that if you can actually put off Beniers’ debut as much as you can while you create the Kraken of the future that can help him succeed as much as possible, then you probably should do that.
This is kind of the worst possible week for Beniers to debut?
I mean it. If he signs, I don’t want him near this team during this road trip.
If Beniers signs, I would prefer it to be done on April 15th, 2022. Maybe at around 2pm PST so everyone can look up from their desks to their phones, register the info, and then return to their work with a little giddy excitement to get them through the day so they can show up Saturday bright and early to watch Matty B at Climate Pledge.
Because if there’s one thing you really don’t want while selling the future, it’s your potential top-6 Center of the future potentially getting injured in a game against the gritty, grim, and mean Sutter-led Calgary Flames, or the bitter, angry Winnipeg Jets who aren’t good, but aren’t fun to play against. Two big, physical teams that would be a level of “Welcome to the big leagues” in a bitterly sarcastic fashion that you just can’t risk with a prospect as valuable as Beniers.
It’d honestly be better to get him used to the system against a team like the Devils or the Senators, who play fast but aren’t necessarily any better or worse than the Kraken are for a litany of different reasons. You can ease Beniers into the NHL with a team you’re reasonably capable of beating rather than having a big ol’ moment of “welcome” before crashing headfirst into Milan Lucic. That’s not something you want if you’re trying to get people invested in the future. That’s a very Kraken way for things to go, but the thing is that we want this year to be an anomaly. If you gotta throw him to the wolves, then have him get acclimated to the NHL with that Devils game and Sens game, and then let him play a full game against the Colorado Avalanche to really let him know the measuring stick.
Believe me, I’m on Matty B watch as much as everybody else. But I know that this is a season that we’re all kind of waiting for the clock to run out on right now. There’s nothing but a minor pop from the crowd awaiting him and I don’t want him to be used to “well, we tried your hardest.” I want him to come into Seattle Hockey ready to tear into the NHL with both hands. I want him to get acclimated so that he can have as long and as successful a career as possible. And that does mean I think he should be signed as soon as possible.
Just...maybe not right now?
When do you think Matty B will be signed?
This poll is closed
Before this actually goes up. Ha ha nerd you thought
Maybe next week so he can get used to the Kraken locker room
After the season is over so he can properly prepare in the offseason for the NHL and have a nice long training camp
in 2023 after the Kraken have another rough season that leads to Connor Bedard