OILERS NO. 2 PROSPECT (winter 2016): TYLER BENSON

After drafts using an offensively shy template for second-round selections for seemingly forever, the Edmonton Oilers may have gotten it right. Tyler Benson has his issues—injury is the big one—but he can scoot, has grit and can post offense. That is a very nice skill set for a second rounder.

benson

PREVIOUSLY NUMBER TWO ON THE WINTER LIST

  • December 2006: C Rob Schremp
  • December 2007: C Andrew Cogliano
  • December 2008: R Jordan Eberle
  • December 2009: R Jordan Eberle
  • December 2010: R Jordan Eberle
  • December 2011: C Anton Lander
  • December 2012: D Justin Schultz
  • December 2013: D Oscar Klefbom
  • December 2014: D Darnell Nurse
  • December 2015: C Leon Draisaitl

This list contains some real home runs (Cogliano, Eberle, possibly Klefbom, Nurse and Draisaitl) and shows the Oilers have had some good drafting seasons. There are no No. 1 picks here, but six first-round selections in the group. Jordan Eberle is my choice for top player on this list, but he has some exceptional competition pushing through at the NHL level just now.

WHAT THEY SAID BEFORE DRAFT DAY

  • Craig Button, November 2014: “He reminds so much of Jamie Benn at the same age. Tyler can make plays off the wing or score off the wing, and guys like him are rare. He thinks the game at such a high pace, and that translates when you can make plays, when everything around you is busy.” Source
  • Claude Noel, who coached Benson: “He thinks the game at a really good level. He has a tremendous feel for where people are. His pursuit is excellent. He’s physical, he’s strong on the puck.” Source

PRE-DRAFT FINAL RANKINGS

  • Corey Pronman: No. 18
  • Bob McKenzie: No. 39
  • Craig Button: No. 44
  • Black Book: No. 34
  • McKeens: No. 43
  • ISS: No. 55

WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY

  • His .700 even-strength points-per-game ranked him No. 2 among (first time) 2016 draft-eligible WHL forwards (Dillon Dube, .707—he was chosen No. 56 overall by Calgary).
  • His .567 primary even-strength points-per-game ranked him No. 2 among (first time) 2016 draft-eligible WHL forwards (Dillon Dube, .585—he was chosen No. 56 overall by Calgary).
  • He did this on a team that won 23 games, and the Giants were one of five teams in the league to score fewer than 200 goals.
  • Corey Pronman: Benson has great instincts, constantly finding seams to get the puck to his teammates or on net. “He never wows you,” said one scout, “but he’s always around the puck, making a good play.” Benson is a quality defensive forward with great work ethic in battles and solid overall positional play. He doesn’t shy away from throwing a hit, and is strong on the puck.
  • Black Book: Benson shows a strong compete level with a bulldog mentality. He’s the type who would rather go through you than around you. He plays with emotion and goes over the edge at times showing frustration. While we like him when he plays his power game, it was a somewhat inconsistent occurrence this season, something that was likely impacted by the nagging injuries.
  • Benson on getting drafted by the Oilers: ‘A very special moment, growing up an Oiler fan. It was a pretty special moment being able to put that jersey on.’ Source

2016-17

  • Peter Chiarelli: “You can just see it from day to day, he’s gotten better out here. He’s a smart player, he’s a strong player. He makes so many plays out there. He has a ways to go with his conditioning, he really hasn’t skated in a long time at this pace or this level, so he still has some ramping up to do, but we’re very happy with the selection. You can see the talent and the skill and the hockey sense out there. The hockey sense is through the roof with him.” Source
  • Benson was injured during Orientation, rookie and main camp, so Oilers fans didn’t get a good chance to see him this fall. He is a highly anticipated selection for fans, as Benson has both the resume and boxcars that suggests he can cover a second-round number.

PREVIOUS RANKINGS

  • Summer 2016: No. 4
  • Winter 2016: No. 2

Benson is the player-type I have always gravitated to, two-way player with skill and smarts. A forward who can contribute offensively and contest defensively is worth his weight in gold—see Craig Ramsay, Don Marcotte, et cetera. Now, we can’t call him that yet, but the tools are there and if he can stay healthy I am betting Edmonton has something here.

In choosing Benson over several others who were under consideration, I chose range of skills over offense, forward over defense. Although Benson is ranked No. 2, the gap from 2-8 is not large to my eye.

THE FUTURE

Benson is over a point per game in his draft+1 season (14gp, 8-9-17) and appears to be the best offensive player on a middling Vancouver Giants club. The thing to watch for the rest of this season is the offense, because if he can post a strong set of boxcars perhaps he can be projected onto a high skill line. That is basically the future for Edmonton—finding second-round picks who might be able to play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins—and Benson is a pretty good candidate.

Prospect Insider Simon Boisvert (who appears often on the Lowdown) likes Benson a lot, and feels the best spot for the young winger next fall is the AHL. Benson cannot play with Bakersfield next year, but we may watch for Edmonton to give him a long look in training camp fall 2017.

THE 2016 DRAFT

  • Jesse Puljujarvi—No. 4 overall. Edmonton has enjoyed two lucky moments in consecutive drafts, and getting Puljujarvi was an enormous stroke of luck. We do not know the totality of his offense, so there is reason to be measured in our enthusiasm. Still, if he can become a 25-goal scorer along with all of the other skills, Edmonton will have another impact player. No. 1 prospect.
  • Tyler Benson—No. 32 overall. Two-way winger scoring well in the WHL and he was one of the impact players during the Canada-Russia series (that is ongoing). Expect a strong offensive run this winter and a slight chance he gets some NHL time in 2017-18 as a 19-year old. No. 2 prospect.
  • Markus Niemelainen—No. 63 overall. Niemelainen is a big (6.05, 200 on draft day) defenseman with speed and raw skills. He has two-way ability but that has not shown itself in Saginaw (OHL) where he has just one point in 13 games this season. Ranked inside Top 20.
  • Matthew Cairns—No. 84 overall. He is another defenseman who has much development ahead, but in this case there appears to be an offensive payoff clearly visible. Now 10gp, 0-2-2 with the Fargo Force, playing time has been an early issue in his new league. He is big and has a nice range of skills.
  • Filip Berglund—No. 91 overall. He is the most interesting defenseman in the group, owing to both range of skills and the fact he is already playing in a pro league (SHL, 12gp, 0-1-1). Has enough finesse to be considered a puck mover, he has good vision and is an excellent passer. A very nice skill set. Ranked inside Top 20. 
  • Dylan Wells—No. 123 overall. Well. There is a temptation to trumpet progress (.926SP this year is a spike of 55 points year over year) but it is simply too soon. Can he manage to bear up under the pressure of playing for a poor team (they appear to be genuinely awful)? He has good size and is athletic, and is clearly playing with confidence. Ranked inside Top 20.
  • Graham McPhee, No. 149 overall. Intriguing selection (Corey Pronman liked him) and I wonder if he is (like Niemelainen and Cairns) something of a draft and follow. His early Boston College numbers (11gp, 0-4-4) are solid, but so much of college hockey numbers depend on playing time. Kind of a mystery at this point. Candidate for Top 20.
  • Aapeli Rasanen, No. 153 overall.  As is the case with Wells, we must resist overreacting to a strong start (USHL numbers—10gp, 3-8-11). A true center, he is an excellent passer who can finish, plays in all disciplines and is a fine face-off man. An impressive group of skills for so late in the draft, he is described as having average foot speed. Inside the Top 20.
  • Vincent Desharnais, No. 183 overall. Steve Kournianos (via the Lowdown): Very big, skates awkward but makes good first pass. Not physical, no way on the PP. Best thing he does is stand people up, use long stick to jar puck loose during board play. Doesn’t have Paigin’s shot/skill.

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35 Responses to "OILERS NO. 2 PROSPECT (winter 2016): TYLER BENSON"

  1. spoiler says:

    Very happy with this draft choice. Coming off injury and arrested development as he is, I think looking at half season splits at the end of the year might be very instructive.

  2. LMHF#1 says:

    If he’s #2…they could be in big trouble prospect-depth-wise. Work to be done.

    Also – DeBrincat has 38 in 15 now. His name should be here.

  3. fifthcartel says:

    Niemelainen’s start has to be considered incredibly disappointing. You would hope for an increase in offense if an NHL career was possible, but instead this is almost enforcer-level offense so far.

    I didn’t mind the pick, and it is incredibly early, but Calgary drafted an offensive RHD 3 spots later and he is a ppg in the NCAA. Seems like a player Edmonton might be able to use.

  4. --hudson-- says:

    Also Raddysh has 42 in 16 and he’s 6’2″ 209lbs
    I wonder who’s zooming who? Tampa looks to have another player

    LMHF#1:
    If he’s #2…they could be in big trouble prospect-depth-wise. Work to be done.

    Also – Debrincat has 38 in 15 now. His name should be here.

  5. Lowetide says:

    fifthcartel:
    Niemelainen’s start has to be considered incredibly disappointing. You would hope for an increase in offense if an NHL career was possible, but instead this is almost enforcer-level offense so far.

    Yeah, I don’t think that is really on Niemelainen. His team has three wins in 16 games, their GF-GA is 35-66 (that is 2.18GF per game). I don’t think we will get an accurate reflection of his offense this year.

  6. Oilspill says:

    It’s all about “who” you play with. Very few players don’t need 4 skaters supporting them. When you are playing with a boarder line player you can’t expect too much.

  7. fifthcartel says:

    Lowetide,

    Woof, that would do it. Did not see that.

  8. Younger Oil says:

    Do we think #32 and #63 or #84 could have gotten #39 and #50 from Chicago?

  9. Woodguy says:

    Pleased with this pick and please with Green’s drafting overall.

    I know that K.Gretzky was involved in drafting for BOS, but I hope his attention is on other matters and he lets Bob run his own board.

  10. Rondo says:

    LT,

    Do think Benson makes the Canadian team for Wold Jrs.?

  11. Lowetide says:

    Rondo:
    LT,

    Do think Benson makes the Canadian team for Wold Jrs.?

    I think he has a chance, but there are a lot of higher picks eligible and it often depends on what league the coach is from. He is in the mix imo.

  12. JimmyV1965 says:

    LMHF#1:
    If he’s #2…they could be in big trouble prospect-depth-wise. Work to be done.

    Also – DeBrincat has 38 in 15 now. His name should be here.

    I don’t think anyone reading this blog thought Benson would outscore DeBrincat at the junior level. We’ll see what happens as they get older. I would have taken Benson ahead of DeBrincat, but both are great picks. And both carry great risk.

  13. Jaxon says:

    This is my favourite scouting report on him:

    http://www.thedraftanalyst.com/prospects/tyler-benson/

    Some great stuff in there.

  14. N64 says:

    Had a good audition against the Russian juniors last night:

    http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/juniors/takeaways-game-2-cibc-canada-russia-series/

    Spector: “In his hometown, and in the building the Oilers draft pick hopes to make a living in one day, Tyler Benson was the player of the game with a goal and two assists for the WHL”

  15. Jaxon says:

    Right now, Benson is on the same pace Eberle had in his draft+1 season (1.21pts/gp). I suspect he’ll end the season with a higher pts/gp total. Eberle got 1.86 pts/gp in his draft+2 season.

  16. Lowetide says:

    Jaxon:
    Right now, Benson is on the same pace Eberle had in his draft+1 season (1.21pts/gp). I suspect he’ll end the season with a higher pts/gp total. Eberle got 1.86 pts/gp in his draft+2 season.

    That would be an absolute dream. With the other things he brings? Music!

  17. frjohnk says:

    Jaxon:
    Right now, Benson is on the same pace Eberle had in his draft+1 season (1.21pts/gp). I suspect he’ll end the season with a higher pts/gp total. Eberle got 1.86 pts/gp in his draft+2 season.

    BENSON!

  18. JimmyV1965 says:

    Here’s a question totally off topic. Has Sekera regressed this year, or have all the other dmen simply improved? He was our first or second best dman last year, but this year he’s often looked like our fifth or sixth best dman. Even Gryba looks better many nights. And I know some of it is quality of competition.

  19. Lowetide says:

    JimmyV1965:
    Here’s a question totally off topic. Has Sekera regressed this year, or have all the other dmen simply improved? He was our first or second best dman last year, but this year he’s often looked like our fifth or sixth best dman. Even Gryba looks better many nights. And I know some of it is quality of competition.

    Sekera is fine, but he needs a quality partner. He played well with Mark Fayne a year ago, but the Oilers are playing him with a rookie right now. No offense to Benning, but that is a load. And Russell had a nice start and then faded before the injury. Give Sekera a veteran option he will be fine.

  20. JimmyV1965 says:

    Davie would look good there for sure.

  21. stush18 says:

    LMHF#1:
    If he’s #2…they could be in big trouble prospect-depth-wise. Work to be done.

    Also – DeBrincat has 38 in 15 now. His name should be here.

    –hudson–:
    Also Raddysh has 42 in 16 and he’s 6’2″ 209lbs
    I wonder who’s zooming who? Tampa looks to have another player

    –hudson–:
    Also Raddysh has 42 in 16 and he’s 6’2″ 209lbs
    I wonder who’s zooming who? Tampa looks to have another player

    Hard to quibble between any of these three players. Although to be honest I’d rank debricant third out of these guys. He has to play on a skill line, otherwise he has no future. Benson and raddysh could flame out, but still carve out careers as checkers.

    I imagine that’s the reason behind debricants drop on draft day

  22. JimmyV1965 says:

    Just watched the Pens game again. Overall we really played well. Feel bad for Klef and Larsson. They were each -3, but the only goal they flubbed was the third one. Other than that they were basically rock solid. Nurse was incredible. Very physical and even a subtle play where he kicked the puck out to one of our players and another spinarama move. Drai and Lucic were awful, especially Lucic. They turned over the puck countless times and were directly responsible for the first two goals against. I thought Pitlick looked good though. Benning was a bit scary out there too. Not trying to be super negative because we played the Pens very tough. We had as many grade A chance as they did, or close anyway. Just a bit surprised when I watched it again how bad Lucic and Drai really were.

  23. geowal says:

    In some ways Benson reminds me of Greg Chase, at least scout report wise in play style, give Chase more agitation, Benson more hitting and offense. Benson benefit of doubt of course on character (or whatever went on with Chase in CGY) but substitute injury worry.

    Chase draft-1: .46 ppg
    Draft: .71 ppg
    Draft +1: 1.21 ppg
    Draft +2:: 0.96 ppg

    Benson draft-1: .72 ppg
    Draft: .93 ppg
    Draft+1: 1,21 ppg, and counting
    Draft +2: ????

    More offense earlier for Benson, I just thought it an interesting notion. PIMs aren’t wildly different some seasons too. Based on progress so far that would be the low bar which I’d expect/hope he can exceed (not that I’m writing off Chase, who LT once ranked as high as 6th.) We’ll want to see continuous improvement for Benson.
    http://lowetide.ca/2014/11/17/no-6-prospect-winter-2014-greg-chase/

  24. stush18 says:

    geowal,

    That’s a great comparison.

    I’d say benson is a better skater, but it makes you wonder why chase hasn’t been given much of a shot in the AHL.

    Also I think benson playing on the worst team in the dub is possibly hurting his offence.

    I remember when drai was in PA, we were all impressed with how he was basically the driving force behind that teams offemse. Be interesting to see if benson is, because chase was more of a passenger in the sense that he was playing with better teammates IIRC.

  25. geowal says:

    stush18,

    Thx, yeah, I’m left to feel like whatever went on with the Hitmen followed Chase to the AHL, (hope not) but with a then hard to explain love in when he got his contract and extended training camp. Speculating on something I don’t really like to do so on, but why no mgmt push at all then???
    Also yes quite different teams, both of Chase’s were good teams.

    I’m optimistic on Benson, but see Chase as the cautionary tale, so it’s early to call him a sure fire NHLer.

  26. stush18 says:

    geowal,

    I’d say whatever happened left a sour taste with management, and perhaps ut did follow him. But who knows. Skating was always a little sluggish too.

  27. Lowetide says:

    Condors sign Kellen Lain and Bryce Aneloski to PTOs.

    http://theahl.com/transactions

  28. GMB3 says:

    What would you guys do with Slepy?

    I think he has too much talent to sit in the press box. I’d say he has the third most offensive potential out of all our RW’s (from the eye test and KHL #’s). I think he needs to play with skill or go to Bako and get the opportunity to make some music with JJ Khaira/Caggiula. I feel as though he played really well with Drai yet has been shafted in favour of the shiny new toy and the hot hand (at least Pitlick earned it by merit).

  29. GMB3 says:

    The guy is right handed and a shooter. And his big with some hands. I could see him being a perfect fit on this team. IMO we don’t have many guys who can fire it/who chose to fire it.

  30. Lowetide says:

    GMB3:
    What would you guys do with Slepy?

    I think he has too much talent to sit in the press box. I’d say he has the third most offensive potential out of all our RW’s (from the eye test and KHL #’s). I think he needs to play with skill or go to Bako and get the opportunity to make some music with JJ Khaira/Caggiula. I feel as though he played really well with Drai yet has been shafted in favour of the shiny new toy and the hot hand (at least Pitlick earned it by merit).

    I think he has a chance to make it, but the Oilers fell into Puljujarvi this summer and that impacts him. Slepyshev has the coach on his side, so that helps, but Caggiula is coming up behind and that will tell its own story.

  31. Oilspill says:

    I think like most Nurse is doing well. I say play Benning with him and see if there is a dropoff. That would tell me if Nurse is as dominant as many think he is. Sometime teams avoid attacking one side if there is a hard hitter who finishes checks.

  32. pocession charge says:

    geowal:
    In some ways Benson reminds me of Greg Chase, at least scout report wise in play style, give Chase more agitation, Benson more hitting and offense. Benson benefit of doubt of course on character (or whatever went on with Chase in CGY) but substitute injury worry.

    Chase draft-1: .46 ppg
    Draft: .71 ppg
    Draft +1: 1.21 ppg
    Draft +2:: 0.96 ppg

    Benson draft-1: .72 ppg
    Draft: .93 ppg
    Draft+1: 1,21 ppg, and counting
    Draft +2: ????

    More offense earlier for Benson, I just thought it an interesting notion. PIMs aren’t wildly different some seasons too. Based on progress so far that would be the low bar which I’d expect/hope he can exceed (not that I’m writing off Chase, who LT once ranked as high as 6th.) We’ll want to see continuous improvement for Benson.
    http://lowetide.ca/2014/11/17/no-6-prospect-winter-2014-greg-chase/

    Benson has much higher hockey sense than Chase, which gives him a greater shot of making it. Chase isn’t very good and his attitude has always been a question mark.

  33. Lowetide says:

    Oilspill:
    I think like most Nurse is doing well. I say play Benning with him and see if there is a dropoff. That would tell me if Nurse is as dominant as many think he is. Sometime teams avoid attacking one side if there is a hard hitter who finishes checks.

    I think this is a terrible idea. Keep Nurse with veteran Gryba, and find a suitable veteran for Sekera, either in-house or via trade.

  34. OilLeak says:

    Gryba is an interesting player, extremely limited but has woked out when playing with the likes of Davidson and Nurse. Number #7 guy all the way, but a signing that was needed considering the rate Oilers run through defenseman.

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