The median selection from our top 25 under 25 list is former Vancouver Giants star Tyler Benson. Benson was selected in the second round of the 2016 NHL entry draft, by the Oilers, with the number 32 overall pick.
There’s a lot to like about Benson, as a prospect, about to play his first full season of professional hockey, which will very likely be in Bakersfield. At 5’11’’ 203lbs, he’s got a build that would suggest he’s physically ready to hold up against the increased physicality of the pro game. But, more importantly, he seems to have enough skills to survive the transition as well.
Benson, an Edmonton native, and product of the Confederation hockey club, was the number one overall pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. Ahead of players like Nolan Patrick, Tyson Jost, and 2017 Oilers first round pick Kailer Yamamoto. Benson may not be as highly touted as these select players from his Bantam draft year anymore, but his major junior career was hardly a disappointment.
Benson scored 195 points in 197 games, between the WHL regular season and playoffs during his junior career, while also captaining the Giants for each of his final three seasons. This included 41 goals and 122 points in 98 games after being selected in the draft by the Oilers. These may not be the eye-popping numbers that warrant hype as a future top six forward lock in the world’s best league, but they are good enough to suggest that he has the skill to make a meaningful contribution on an NHL roster. Let’s hope that turns out to be the case.
So, why is he only number 13 on our list? That’s only one spot ahead of Drake Caggiula, and his write up was generally negative. The reason Benson isn’t any higher on this list, mainly has to do with his lack of professional experience. We don’t have a clear criteria for making this list, which, I think, makes it more fun. There probably aren’t 12 current Oilers players or prospects under the age of 25, with more pro potential than Tyler Benson. But, on the other had there are at least that many guys who are closer to filling a spot on the Oilers roster next season.
Benson did show fairly well in his limited time as a pro, at the end of last season, scoring three points in five games down in Bakersfield, but I’d like to see a full season of that type of play at the AHL level before I declare Benson to be a future lock to contribute for the Oilers.
*All junior stats and draft information used in this article were found at Elite Prospects.