At #18 of our top 25 under 25 we have: Tyler Benson.
I clearly ranked him a lot lower than everyone else but am fine with him landing at the 18 spot. This is the first player featured in our Top 25 that I think will actually make an NHL impact one day. He’s only 19 years old, 6 feet tall and a respectable 190lbs. The left winger was drafted 32nd overall in the 2nd round of the 2016 NHL entry draft and had just come off his 3rd season with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. In his draft year he put up 28 points in 30 games. This was a really risky pick at the time because it was an injury plagued year. What couldn’t be ignored was how he played in leagues below the WHL.
What have you done for me lately?
Not too much, just increased point totals and worked on his forecheck. He’s one of the most talented players from the 2016 draft and it shows in his play. The problem is he had another injury plagued year, suiting up for only 33 games and managing 42 points as captain of the Giants. Whether you think injuries are just bad luck or a result of playing a certain way determines where you think he should be ranked.
One thing that most certainly can’t be denied is his shot. It’s one of the quickest releases in the WHL and should be good enough to beat an NHL goalie. Definitely Steve Mason, anyway. See for yourself if you don’t believe me.
Ok, he’s good, what now?
He’ll be at training camp and hopefully without injury. He has all the tools to be a good middle six forward someday. When that time comes is up to him. I think he’ll impress in camp more than a few other players with higher pedigree, and move up on our prospect radars. He’ll likely end up back in the WHL for one more year but should get a few preseason games. Dare I suggest he even gets a few regular season games? The roster says ‘no’ but I can’t rule it out. If he has a healthy season in Vancouver this year, I expect his point total to be over 100. I don’t think he’ll be able to stay in the NHL for very long — if at all — this year, but next year he will have every opportunity to crack the line up. He’s good enough to do it and I don’t expect him to ever be a full-time AHLer. Once he’s done in the WHL he’ll be on the Oilers. Hopefully he looks great doing it. At 32nd overall in the draft, he’s a steal... As long as he can stay healthy.