Kraken coach Hakstol: Beniers ‘hungry to be good at everything’

Jun 28, 2023, 11:54 AM

Seattle Kraken Matty Beniers...

Matty Beniers of the Seattle Kraken skates against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 19, 2022. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The very first draft pick in Seattle Kraken history added some serious hardware to his trophy case this week.

Matty Beniers, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, won the Calder Trophy on Monday night as the NHL’s top rookie for his play in the 2021-22 season.

Matty Beniers of Seattle Kraken wins NHL’s rookie of the year award

The 20-year-old center was the Kraken’s All-Star this past season, anchoring their first line and scoring 57 points (24 goals and 33 assists) in 80 games. He also added seven points (three goals and four assists) in 14 playoff games.

How much better can Beniers get? Kraken head coach Dave Hasktol heaped a ton of praise on the young star during his Wednesday interview with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“The sky’s the limit, No. 1,” Hakstol said. “… To see Matty acknowledged as as the rookie of the year I think speaks well to the entire organization. But for Matty himself, I mean, this guy, he just shows up and works. And when you’re around him, he’s such an easy guy to be around. His teammates love him.”

Beniers wasn’t just a key scorer for the Kraken – he finished four on the team in points – but also an incredibly solid all-around player. That’s part of why Hakstol thinks Beniers can be so great in his NHL career.

“He’s going to continue to improve his game. He’s just one of the guys that he’s hungry to be good at everything,” Hakstol said. “And sometimes you have to be a little careful with that because that’s hard to do, but we believe he’s capable of it. He’s gonna continue to be a real good player in a two-way sense. He’s going to be that 200-foot guy, but we’re going to really continue to see his offensive game grow as well. It’ll be a fun pathway to watch.”

Hakstol said the Kraken will “pay a lot of attention” to Beniers’ growth and development and make sure they take it step by step.

“We don’t want to put too much on his plate too early, but what he’s showing us is that’s hard to do,” he said. “There’s really no such thing as too much on his plate. He wants to take it on and he’s happy to take on those challenges. He’s going to continue to become a true leader in and amongst our guys even though he’s going to go into his second year in the National Hockey League.”

Can Beniers be the best Seattle Kraken player on a title team?

Mike Salk asked Hakstol a straightforward question that, after last season’s surprising playoff run, is certainly one worth exploring:

Can Beniers be the best player on a Stanley Cup championship team?

“I believe he can,” Hakstol said. “And I say that not based off of just skill and ability level. I base that off of presence, competitiveness, intelligence, all of those elements that you bring together. And when a player has the presence that Matty does, in and around his teammates, the answer for me is yes.”

Listen to Brock and Salk’s full interview with Hakstol at this link or in the audio player near the top of this story. 

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Kraken coach Hakstol: Beniers ‘hungry to be good at everything’