3 Sabres players who must step up following Casey Mittelstadt trade

The Buffalo Sabres traded Casey Mittelstadt on Wednesday, and they got an intriguing defenseman. But that also means someone must fill the void Mittelstadt left.

Feb 27, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) moves the puck against
Feb 27, 2024; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Buffalo Sabres left wing Zach Benson (9) moves the puck against / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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Zach Benson must start showing off his scoring prowess

While Zach Benson is a winger as opposed to a center, we all know how much scoring upside he possesses. However, he has just 18 points and six goals in 52 contests, which equals 0.35 points per game when rounded up. 

This isn’t a knock on Benson, whose game has primarily been defense since he earned a full-time spot on the lineup. The 18-year-old has played like a seasoned veteran quite a few times in 2023-24, forcing opponents with more NHL experience than he has into making mistakes, and if they think they can skate around him, he’s been glad to at least get a stick on the puck if not outright take it away. 

With a strong scoring asset like Mittelstadt now in Denver, Benson will have more opportunities to help create goals either by finding open linemates near the net or doing what he does best in the offensive zone and setting himself up near the crease. 

Like all NHL players, Benson has struggled through some rookie moments, but his high hockey IQ has been valuable to the Sabres all season. Now, he can end the year strong, rack up some points, and excite the fanbase for the 2024-25 season. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference as of March 7th)