Lance Lysowski of The Buffalo News is reporting that it seems likely that the Buffalo Sabres will hold on to 18-year-old Zach Benson rather than sending him overseas to play for Team Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship. Nothing concrete has been decided yet, but as Lysowski writes, the Sabres will likely need the 2023 13th overall pick to fill in for the injured Jeff Skinner.
Hockey Canada is hoping to finalize their roster by the end of this week and purposely left a roster spot vacant because they were hoping to see if an NHL player could be made eligible at some point this week. With Skinner out, the Sabres have lost a top-line left winger and will have to try to fill that void by committee, and Benson could be a big part of that.
Benson has dressed in 20 games thus far this season posting three goals and five assists. While his offensive numbers don’t jump off the page at first glance, his analytics are quite good and he’s done a very good job of driving play at 5 on 5.
The Sabres are dealing with a bunch of injury issues at the moment and likely won’t be able to spare a forward when they are already missing Skinner, Jordan Greenway, Jack Quinn, and Zemgus Girgensons.
TSN’s Darren Dreger also weighed in on the situation and echoed what Lysowski had said. Dreger believes that Benson is not expected to be loaned to Team Canada.