Zach Benson must stay on the Buffalo Sabres top line until Jeff Skinner returns

The Buffalo Sabres top line comprises a pair of dynamic scorers in Alex Tuch and Tage Thompson, but Zach Benson also looks like a great fit.

Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins
Buffalo Sabres v Boston Bruins / Winslow Townson/GettyImages
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Last week, I said it would be logical for the Buffalo Sabres to move Casey Mittelstadt to center the top scoring line. Then Jeff Skinner landed on injured reserve later that same day, prompting the Sabres to ultimately keep the former eighth-overall pick there. 

The trio of Alex Tuch, Mittelstadt, and Tage also started on the top line together in the Sabres win over the San Jose Sharks. But as you may know, head coach Don Granato ultimately opted to roll with Zach Benson not long after the puck dropped. 

And it paid off as Benson, always willing to do the dirty work, didn’t change his game when Granato made the change. Given the rookie’s unchanging style, it’s the primary reason he needs to be on the top line at least until Skinner is ready.

Buffalo Sabres must roll with Benson until Skinner returns

Benson won’t score you many points this season, and he hasn’t, with just 14 in 34 contests. But someone on that top line always needs to park themselves near the net, and it’s what he’s brought literally since the Blue and Gold gave him a chance to stick around all season. 

His presence also brings another layer of defense to the top line, as Benson is so good at creating nightmares for opposing skaters when the Sabres don’t have the puck. Alex Tuch can do that, but Benson is more consistent, and Tage also lacks consistency in that area. 

The Buffalo Sabres top line can’t possess the puck 100 percent of the time when they are out there, but with Benson, he will lure opponents into miscues time and again, leading to eventual scoring chances for the Buffalo Sabres. 

Therefore, they need Benson on that line, and if his defensive play continues to be the catalyst for creating chances, the Sabres may even think about keeping him there even after Skinner returns. If something is working for this team in win-now mode, it would serve them well to keep it working. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)