2023 Draft Profile: Zach Benson

Photo: Instagram/ZachBenson_6

The 2023 NHL Entry Draft is a just little over a week away. As we close-in on draft day, we continue our evaluation of players that the Washington Capitals could select with the eighth overall selection. Today we will take a look at forward Zach Benson. 


David Reinbacher
Matvei Michkov
Colby Barlow
Oliver Moore
Dalibor Dvorsky
Andrew Cristall
Gabe Perreault

ZACH BENSON – (18) – 5’10” – 159LBS, LW, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)

Benson is a lock to be a top 10 selection, and might even go in the top 5. He had an outstanding draft year, ranking third in the WHL with 98 points (36 goals, 62 assists) for the Winnipeg Ice. The 18-year-old also had 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 15 playoff games with the Ice. 

This draft is filled with elite playmakers, and Benson is certainly one of those players. His passing ability is elite and he always has his head up. He has a very high hockey IQ and always knows where to be on the ice for his teammates to feed him the puck. The left-winger is one of the smartest and most cerebral players in the entire draft.

He’s not a pure goal scorer, but is good at finding shooting lanes and shooting through traffic. Even though his shot is not as powerful as some of the other players in this draft, such as Colby Barlow, it is pretty accurate.

However the thing that stands about about Benson is that he never stops moving his feet. He is hungry for every single puck in all three zones, similar to a guy like Joe Snively. His compete level is what makes him a 200-foot player. 

While his skating is not bad, it is certainly one of his weaker points. He is another guy where his straightaway skating needs work, but it will improve as he gets stronger. Furthermore, Benson’s 5-foot-10 frame might be a concern for some teams because he tends to get knocked off the puck easily. However, it is hard to ignore how much upside there is.  And at 18, he may not be done growing.

Benson is certainly in the Capitals’ ballpark for the eighth selection even though he is ranked in the top 5. Anyone ranked inside the top 10, outside of Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Leo Carlsson, are possibilities to come to Washington. 

Once the rebuild officially begins, he has the potential to be a very good top 6 winger. 



The Hockey Writers

Benson is an elite passer with incredible vision. He can seamlessly thread the needle with his crisp 10-foot passes. He can see plays three to four steps before they happen. He is one of the smartest players in this draft class. He uses that intelligence on both sides of the puck. He creates chances that lead to scoring opportunities.

Scott Wheeler: The Athletic

Benson’s a driver in every sense. He’s a multi-dimensional forward who has quick acceleration, can handle the puck at speed and change tempos in control, can shape play by opening up his hips to go heel-to-heel, thrives in traffic, is a triple shot-deke-pass threat, plays one step ahead of the game in possession, supports the play effectively, problem-solves as well as anyone in this class (in an age group that is full of intelligent playmakers), works hard off the puck to keep his energy up (he plays heavier and scrappier than he looks, too), and sets the pace and effort level for his line (whether by picking it up or slowing it down to use his creativity).

Ben Jordan, Smaht Scouting 

“Benson is a terrific distributor of the puck. He uses a variety of different pass types to successfully execute different plays. Like I mentioned above, he is great at dishing little 5-10ft passes from below the goal line and is extremely precise when doing so.”


Elite Prospects: 5
SportsNet: 7
NHL Central Scouting: 6 (NA skaters)
The Hockey News: 9

By Jacob Cheris

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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3 Responses to 2023 Draft Profile: Zach Benson

  1. Prevent Defense says:

    Looks good to me! Weak skater? That nine-and-a-half minute Highlight Reel was spectacular, like watching Gretzky or Datsyuk. Benson is up there with the other possible Number Eight selections. Between him and Michkov, there’s a skill set utterly missing from the current Caps’ lineup.

    Let’s Go Hockey Gods! Give us a Calder Cup tonight! And a magnificent Washington Capitals’ draft and trade and free agent season. Anticipation!!

  2. hockeydruid says:

    Not a bad choice. Has to improve his skating and put on some weight and muscle.

  3. redLitYogi says:

    awesome piece. I’m sold. If we don’t get Mitchkov — according to most of what I’ve read the clear number 2 choice in this great draft — I’d love it if we got this one.

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