The Edmonton Oilers find themselves in the window to win a Stanley Cup this coming season. Going down a track alongside that train is a disturbing lack of a feeder system that will be required to overcome roster holes and deadline procurement requirements. It’s an issue.
Every prospect in the system, from Jesse Puljujarvi through Braden Christoffer, is a possible trade piece and a possible solution to an NHL problem. Edmonton needs as many assets as possible to feed the fire. Some of these kids will emerge as NHL options and others will be used as trade item to bring in deadline help in 2018 through 2028. It’s a gigantic part of the future and Peter Chiarelli must fill the prospect field annually.
- Bob Green to Bob Stauffer on Tyler Benson: “I don’t think he will see on ice action at this tournament. We want to get him ready for the season with Vancouver.” Source.
Benson is a substantial prospect but his injury history has placed him in a danger area as a prospect. Let’s call it the “Marc Pouliot-Doug Lynch Danger Zone” and I do think Benson is in it. It is discouraging to hear Benson won’t playa role in yet another rookie camp. It is encouraging to see the organization has some hopes for him in terms of playing an entire WHL season, as Benson has played 44 percent of his team’s games over the last two years. Valuable development time has been lost and Benson needs to post something close to 72 games in the coming year. When healthy, he does deliver offensively (70 points in the 63 games, NHLE 26.4) and his resume suggests a range of skills. Tyler Benson is a quality asset if he healthy and this season appears to be his best chance to show he can endure the rigors of an entire campaign.
2016 DRAFT, PICKS NO. 31-39
- The Oilers didn’t have a chance at Yegor Korshkov, who had a fine season in a pro league (KHL). He spiked as a player beginning at the WJs in 2015 and has been quality since. An excellent pick, he has two points in six KHL games so far in 2017-18.
- Edmonton had (I’m just talking forwards here) several excellent players to choose from but went with Benson. I recall some articles about Benson having skated and looking recovered from draft year injuries. Benson’s scouting report (two-way forward, aggressive,skilled) suggested a range of abilities. Corey Pronman had him No. 18 overall and mentioned him as a “quality defensive forward” which is something that would appeal to the Oilers.
- Rasmus Asplund was also available, he got a lot of attention due to skill and skating abilities. I had him at No. 27, he was good value at No. 33.
- Jordan Kyrou was well thought of draft day but his resume mentioned consistency and slight frame (6.0, 175) on draft day may have cost him but Kyrou went inside the range of expectation.
- Pascal Laberge was high on my list (inside top 20) but there were concerns about him as a somewhat one-dimensional type. His draft+1 season was the weakest in this group but we are early days.
- Adam Mascherin was one of the best scorers in the 2016 draft and fell because of his size (5.10) and skating (not slow but not a burner). Mascherin cranked out another great season in his draft+1 year.
- Alex DeBrincat was an outstanding offensive prospect in his draft year (I had him No. 15 overall, Pronman had him in the same range). He duplicated his marvelous 16-year old season in his draft year, and this time without Connor McDavid. In his draft +1 year DeBrincat was outstanding again and as you can see his NHLE suggests he is the class of the group.
Why didn’t the Oilers take DeBrincat? Pretty easy answer, they liked Benson and his range of skills more. The tale of the tape on Benson (6.01, 200) versus DeBrincat (5.07, 163) on their draft days may have contributed and the Oilers may feel DeBrincat is going to find tough sledding at the NHL level (as opposed to junior). That’s a lot of offense being posted by the young man, but there are elements to Benson’s game that probably made a difference for the Oilers. Time will tell, fairly easy to see who is leading the race at this time. Edmonton drafted their small RW one year later in Kailer Yamamoto.
The unfortunate thing for the Oilers is that their man has a story to tell—or he does if he is healthy enough to play hockey. One of the quotes we read about him goes all the way back to January:
- Tyler Benson on his injury: “It’s frustrating. I’m just worried about trying to get back to healthy and back on the ice with my team.” Source
I imagine Benson remains frustrated, this time because he’ll be unable to play at the Young Stars Tournament. That’s a setback for sure, but eyes on the prize and hopefully he’ll be game ready upon arrival in Vancouver.