If there were any Seattle Kraken fans who lost sleep over whether Michigan hockey sophomore Matty Beniers would become a professional this month – yes, they will not be sleepless anymore.
The No. 2 senior in last summer’s NHL draft announced his departure from Ann Arbor on Sunday with a tweet with a Photoshop photo (tagged with Kraken’s Twitter account) of himself in a Michigan uniform staring over Puget Sound at Seattles skyline.
The accompanying message: “See you soon,” with an octopus – or “crack” if you squint – emoji.
In fact, the Wolverines striker is on his way to the NHL. Shortly after Kraken. The Beniers were the first draft pick in the history of the expansion franchise, and they’re probably eager to get him in uniform. He is expected to train on Monday. Kraken is 23-43-6 in their opening season.
“It’s really an honor to be an official member of the Kraken organization and I can not wait to get started,” Beniers told NHL.com. “Even though we did not reach our goal, I loved my time with Michigan and look forward to the next step on my journey. Being drafted last summer was surreal. I’m excited to get to Seattle.”
There is little doubt that the Massachusetts native is ready after a dominant second season. The Beniers led Michigan in points (43) after posting 20 goals (straight on ninth nationally) and 23 assists. He was a unanimous selection for the All-Big Ten first team, as well as a West All-American first team selection.
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That was despite missing a month of matches while playing for Team USA at the Olympics in Beijing, where he had a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating in four matches. In his return to the college game, the Beniers had three goals and three assists over nine games as the Wolverines returned to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2018.
However, the Beniers’ NCAA Tournament was not easy; he had a goal and an assist in Wolverines’ victory in the first round over American International, but was kept goalless in their victory over Quinnipiac and their loss to Denver.
“We are pleased to officially welcome Matty to our organization,” Kraken GM Ron Francis told NHL.com. “He ended a productive career in Michigan with a trip to the Frozen Four and has impressed our staff over the last few years with his leadership and strong two-way play. We look forward to working with him as he takes the next step in his development.”
He is the third member of Michigan’s quartet of top-five picks from last summer for the NHL. Defender Owen Power (No. 1, Buffalo Sabers) and striker Kent Johnson (No. 5, Columbus Blue Jackets) on Friday signed three-year entry-level deals.
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Still announcing his plans: Defender Luke Hughes, whose 17 goals and 22 assists placed him in third place among Wolverines in points. Hughes was The Big Ten Freshman of the Year, a West All-American second-team player and a top-10 finalist in voting for the Hobey Baker Award (awarded annually to college hockey’s best player).
However, UM received good news over the weekend: Goalkeeper Erik Portillo, the Big Ten tournament’s most outstanding player, reportedly decided to return to Ann Arbor for his junior season. The 6-foot-6 Swede started all 42 of Michigan’s games and went 31-10-1 with three shutouts, a 0.926 save percentage and 2.14 goals against the average.
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