Balanced breakfasts and NHL All-Stars helped get Kraken center Matty Beniers ready for the big leagues, full-time this time.

Beniers — more of a “rookie-plus” than a rookie — and more than a dozen other players took the ice Monday for Seattle’s two-day rookie camp. Full-team training camp opens Thursday at Kraken Community Iceplex.

The No. 2 pick in the 2021 NHL draft, Beniers signed with Seattle in April after his Michigan Wolverines lost in the Frozen Four. He joined the Kraken, who were last in the Pacific Division and outside the playoff picture, as they trudged toward a long summer.

His start, featuring nine points (three goals, six assists) in 10 games, became a late bright spot.

“I know it’s going to be tougher this year and you’ve got to get ready for it,” Beniers said Monday.

A Kraken roster spot is his to lose, and at least from the outside it seems Beniers is the only rookie-camp player who can safely say that.

Advertising

There are others who may make a case to make the Kraken’s roster when the regular season begins Oct. 12. Seattle’s second draft pick behind Beniers, defenseman Ryker Evans, is in attendance this week, with 2022 fourth overall pick and fellow center Shane Wright.

“After practice, he’s always wanting to work on stuff, and we kind of bounce off each other with ideas,” Beniers said of Wright. “He likes to have fun, he likes to work hard. I think I’m kind of the same way, so it works well.”

The first NHL stint was memorable, but Beniers was just a guest star. The 82-game regular season is more than twice as long as Michigan’s, and he’ll need to get used to playing every other night. The 6-foot-2 forward, who was listed at 175 pounds last season and turns 20 on Nov. 5, worked on putting on “good weight” this summer. He estimated he put on 11 or 12 pounds.

He spent a month and a half training in his home state of Massachusetts and changed up his routine. He spent a good bit of time away from the ice.

“To allow my body to build muscle and not work out and just burn it right off,” Beniers explained.

He made a stop in Seattle for July’s development camp, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a Mariners game, and spent about another month and a half near the University of Michigan surrounded by a who’s who of American-born active players. He mentioned New Jersey Devils top overall pick Jack Hughes, Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin and Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

Advertising

“I don’t know if there’s many other groups like that around the U.S.,” Beniers said.

He’d be preparing for his junior season if he’d stayed at Michigan. There was a nod to his roots with a stop at the Wolverines’ 56-10 football win over Hawaii on Sept. 10, then it was on to Seattle for informal skates.

“This year will be a little different for him, a little tougher. Teams will know who he is,” Kraken general manager Ron Francis said in July. “It’s an 82-game grind.”