Coming in at number ten in our T25U25 list is Tyler Benson. That’s right, we’ve reached the top 10, which means we’re actually writing about guys who might make a real impact on the NHL club this season.
Benson is a 23-year-old left winger, who hails from Edmonton. In fact, he played his minor hockey for the Confederation Minor Hockey Association.
Benson was a prodigious junior player, going first overall in the 2013 WHL Bantam draft, to the Vancouver Giants. He captained the Giants for three seasons, but never scored the way one might expect a first overall pick to score. Still, he was no slouch in the WHL, as he recorded 122 points in 98 games, over his final two seasons in Vancouver, including playoffs.
The Oilers took Benson as their 2nd round pick, 32nd overall, in the 2016 NHL draft.
Benson has spent the majority of the last three years with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors. Since the start of the 2018-19 AHL season, Benson has recorded 150 points in the AHL, including playoffs, in 167 games played. He led the Condors in scoring in both 2019 and 2021, and has the most points of any Condor of the past 3 years.
Given his age, pedigree, and recent history, he is probably the most likely player who finished the 2021 season in the AHL, to make the leap to the big club for the 2021-22 season.
At 6 feet, 190lbs, and without blazing speed, Tyler Benson isn’t going to wow anyone with his measurables, but he is a fantastic playmaker, or at least has been at the AHL level. Benson has led all Condors forwards in assists in each of the last three seasons, and despite only one assist in seven career NHL games, he always impressed me with his passing and vision whenever I had the chance to watch him with the Oilers.
Traditionally, Benson’s skillset might be the type of thing that keeps him in the minor leagues longer than he should be there. He’s got a top-six winger type of game, which at one point was something that could keep a player down until he was able to crack an NHL club’s top two forward lines.
That was the old NHL, in today’s game, teams should, and, to their credit have been striving more and more for four talented lines. If the Oilers do indeed intend to play the twelve best forwards in the organization every night next season, then I like Benson’s chances of sticking around the team as a third or fourth line winger. In fact, the Oilers could do a lot worse than just icing the Condors’ 2020-21 top line of Benson, Marody, and McLeod at the NHL level this season.
It remains to be seen what kind of impact Tyler Benson will have on the 2021-22 Oilers, but he’s certainly a guy to keep an eye or two on in training camp and the preseason. At 23, he should be very close to reaching his full potential. While it may not be now or never for Benson, we are approaching that territory. He’s a proven player in the second best North American professional league. It’s time to see what he can do as an NHL regular.