Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Granato recently spoke on the team’s plans with rookie forward Zach Benson, who is nearing a return from injury after dealing with a lower-body injury that earned him a spot on injured reserve a couple of weeks ago. Granato shared that the team has yet to decide whether to keep Benson with the NHL club or not and that his first three games back from injury will be “huge” in informing that decision. Benson currently sits at six NHL games played this season and will burn a year of his entry-level contract if he plays in a 10th game. If he doesn’t stick in the NHL lineup, Benson will be returned to the WHL’s Wenatchee Wild, where Sabres teammate Matthew Savoie was just assigned.
Benson has been a surprise going back to last summer when he fell to the Sabres at 13th overall despite many public scouting outlets touting him as a top 10, or even top five, pick in the draft class. He continued to raise eyebrows with a stellar showcase at the Sabres’ training camp, earning an immediate spot on the NHL roster as a 5’9″ 18-year-old. But he’s only managed two points in the six NHL games he’s appeared in while averaging just over 13 minutes of ice time. It’s been a slow start in terms of production but the Sabres are clearly fans of how Benson is adjusting, with Granato adding that there’s a “clear comfort level there.” They will have a small sample of games, coming off an injury, to get a final assessment of Benson before they’ll need to decide if they want to keep him for the season.
The Sabres are expecting Benson, as well as Alex Tuch and Eric Comrie, to return to the lineup on Friday.