Tyler Benson has some top flight skills, including great vision and passing ability. Wins battles, good coverage, but those seam passes are his calling card. Benson signed his second contract on Wednesday a one-year, two-way contract that pays him $750,000 NHL and $100,000 AHL. He also gets $150,000 guaranteed salary.
The man chosen after Benson in the 2016 draft, Rasmus Asplund has a two-year, $825,00 deal with a minor league salary of $775,000 in year one and $875,000 in year two.
Asplund played in 57 NHL games during his entry deal, scoring 8-6-14, seven of those goals in 28 games during the 2020-21 season. Benson? 7 career games, all in 2019-20. We don’t know what we don’t know, but everything is a tell and this one has a certain look.
I’m proud to be writing for The Athletic, and pleased to be part of a great team with Daniel Nugent-Bowman and Jonathan Willis. Here’s the latest!
- New Lowetide: What are the Oilers’ ‘perfect lines’ for next season?
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- DNB: Rating the Oilers’ offseason
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- Lowetide: The future may come early for three Oilers prospect defencemen
- DNB: What I’m hearing about the Oilers offseason, 4.0
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers 2021-22 depth chart
- Lowetide: Warren Foegele acquisition possible key to improving the Oilers third line
- DNB: Ethan Bear on being traded, his time with the Oilers
- DNB: Ethan Bear out, Cody Ceci in, Tyson Barrie stays
- DNB: ‘Ultimate competitor’ Zach Hyman signs with Oilers
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects, summer 2021
- DNB: Oilers draft day notebook
- Jonathan Willis: Zach Hyman, by the numbers
- Lowetide: 5 players outside the NHL who could help the Oilers
- Lowetide: Why Oilers defenceman Evan Bouchard is poised to exceed expectations
ISSEL AND BENSON
Among the dozens and dozens (about 400) of Oilers draft picks since 1979, everyone has a comparable (completely untrue, McDavid among others are unique) from the past.
Benson was signed yesterday, and his comparable was drafted 30 years before him. Kim Issel would play four NHL games, so Benson is already clear of him, but the pro numbers in entry deals for each player are quite similar.
Issel was a right wing with size (6.04, 196) and scoring skill. Issel’s biggest problem was the Oilers RW depth chart during his entry contract: Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson, Norm Lacombe, Kelly Buchberger. When those names began to move on, names like Joe Murphy and others appeared.
Benson’s competition for LW work has been less than Kurri-Anderson level, but he hasn’t been able to slide past names like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Tobias Rieder, James Neal and Joakim Nygard.
- That new contract makes him more vulnerable to waivers. I agree. The contract is both a blessing and a curse.
- Why? It’s a blessing because a team needing an inexpensive winger who can add some offense will be able to grab this contract with not a worry in the world. It’s one year, lowest salary and cap total available, and Benson is a good bet to deliver some offense based on his resume.
- Why could it be a curse? This is a big training camp for Benson. If he comes in fit and determined as I expect, and does everything he can to make the team (like Kyle Brodziak 15 years ago), gets waived and no one claims him, well that’s a humbling experience.
- Do you think that will happen? No, I think his chances are making the team are good, and there will be a team with someone injured and headed to IR. Claiming him is as easy as breathing air.
- Who is his main competition? I think Devin Shore makes the team, so it comes down to Benson versus Brendan Perlini, with Dylan Holloway as an outsider who would need to make it as a top-9 forward to stay. That likely means a LW depth chart of Foegele-Nuge-Holloway-Shore-???? and the question marks are Benson and Perlini.
- Why isn’t he in the NHL? The pandemic forced the organization to make decisions early and mostly stay with them, although the club did recall Ryan McLeod so if there was truly a need for Benson in the NHL a year ago accommodations could have been made to get it done. Edmonton’s left-wingers last season were Nuge, Dominik Kahun, James Neal, Tyler Ennis, Devin Shore and Joakim Nygard. Benson wouldn’t have played in front of Ennis, and Tippett preferred Shore, so there wasn’t a need for recall.
- Why isn’t he in the NHL? Suspect everyone believes he’s NHL-ready and this is the finished product, all he needs is NHL experience. He didn’t get a job in 2020-21 because Nygard and Ennis played in the NHL previously and were better bets. At the time of making the decision, it wasn’t known for certain that NHL teams could recall players from the States. You may recall some teams relocated their AHL clubs to Canada because of it.
- Is that the only reason? Hell no. One never knows, but it’s reasonable to assume the organization has some questions about his being able to help them win NHL hockey games. If that wasn’t an issue, he probably makes the team after his fantastic season in the AHL at age 20.
- What is the ideal situation? He shows up at camp with low body fat, runs over the first Calgary Flames opponent he encounters during the first preseason game September 26, picks up two assists including a primary on the game winner and the coach notices. Then he does a Kyle Brodziak from there.
- Does he have a better chance than Marody? I’d say they are about even. Benson has more range of skills, Marody is more pure skill. We’ll see. It’s possible both get waived.
- Will he clear waivers? I think someone will claim him if he’s exposed. He has a solid offensive resume, despite the lack of goals. Benson’s passing is NHL quality, he can make plays that lead to goals.
- Does he have any chance of making it? Yes, I believe so. If we make a list of second round picks who didn’t make it past 250 NHL games over the last dozen years (Colin McDonald, J-F Jacques, Geoff Paukovich, Anton Lander, Curtis Hamilton, Mitch Moroz, Marco Roy), Benson’s AHL numbers age 20-22 are better. He has talent, it finds its way.
- Will Holland force Tippett to play Benson? I don’t think that captures the relationship between a general manager and a coach. I expect it’s a very rare case when a GM and a coach are far away on evaluating a specific player. If Holland were so convinced of Benson (we have no evidence he is), then parking him at the end of the roster is easy enough to do.
- Benson is a hometown boy, popular fellow. Management just traded Ethan Bear, a fantastically popular actual NHL player. I don’t think that’s part of the equation.
- Is he is claimed by an NHL team, which one will it be? A building team like San Jose would be a candidate, Seattle needs skill forwards, Detroit claims everybody.
- If he is lost to waivers, will Edmonton regret it? It’s rare. Ray Whitney was waived November 5, 1997 and that move (Florida claimed him) bit the organization in the ass for 16 years, including the SCF in 2006.
- Final question: Ideal linemates for Benson? Derek Ryan is very skilled, and a guy like Kailer Yamamoto would be terrific in turning over pucks. A finisher would be good, not sure the Oilers have one on right-wing beyond Marody who will play that far down the lineup.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
At 10 this morning on TSN1260, we hit the ground running and maybe we get an Oilers signing. I’m thinking it’ll be Slater Koekkoek, but Jordie Benn has been mentioned. At 10:20 today, Marshall Ferguson from CFL on TSN and CFL.ca pops in to discuss Week 2 in the CFL and the feature game this weekend (Hamilton v. SK). BJ DeGroot from The Score Wisconsin will talk Packers and Aaron Rodgers, and at 11:25 we’ll hear from old friend Jared Diamond from the Wall Street Journal about a fantastic and messy pennant race in the AL East. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. Talk soon!