In 2018-19, Tyler Benson finished No. 8 in AHL scoring and Cooper Marody landed No. 13 among all players. Both men were rookies. The following season, Marody was injured or out of the lineup and Benson fared less well without his partner in crime. In 2020-21, both men finished in a tie for No. 3 overall scorers in the league. Benson and Marody are too good for the AHL, but can they play as regulars in the NHL? Are the Oilers too old fashioned to run a fourth line that can score goals?
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AHL TOP 10 SCORERS 2007-16 WHO PLAYED 200+ NHL GAMES
If I take the top scorers from each season 2007-08 through 2015-16, how many will have played 200 or more games after finishing top-10 in AHL scoring? If we assume Benson and Marody have NHL ability, then players from the past in the same spots would have had success. Right? Let’s have a look.
- 2007-08: Teddy Purcell, 571 games 101-206-307
- 2007-08: PA Parenteau, 491 games 114-182-296
- 2008-09: Artem Anisimov, 771 games 180-196-376
- 2009-10: David Desharnais, 521 games 87-195-282
- 2011-12: Patrick Maroon, 568 games 101-146-247
- 2011-12: Tyler Johnson, 589 games 161-200-361
- 2011-12: Jonathan Marchessault, 404 games 130-165-295
- 2012-13: Brandon Pirri, 276 games, 72-49-121
- 2012-13: Brett Connolly, 527 games, 101-93-194
- 2013-14: Jordan Weal, 218 games 32-37-69
- 2013-14: Mike Hoffman, 545 games 189-206-395
- 2014-15: Connor Brown, 380 games 80-97-177
- 2015-16: Mikko Rantanen, 333 games, 129-187-316
That’s 13 in 10 years, and if we take the first rounders away (Brett Connolly, Mikko Rantanen) then it’s basically one player per season. It’s a solid group, Pirri and Weal are the weak links but the rest are good players. Edmonton had a bunch of players over the decade, from Rob Schremp to Mark Arcobello to Charles Linglet.
BENSON AND MARODY
- Do you think they’ll make it? I am less convinced of Marody, about 50-50 on Benson.
- Why so glum, chum? Ken Holland upgraded left-wing in the offseason, sending out Dominik Kahun and Joakim Nygard while bringing in Zach Hyman and Warren Foegele. The way is not clear for Benson at this time.
- And Marody? The Kailer Yamamoto situation might open an opportunity but it’s a long shot. Jesse Puljujarvi, Josh Archibald and Zack Kassian are locks, with Hyman able to play RW, Kyle Turris bubbling under, plus free agency (Alex Chiasson) and waivers possibly offering a solution. I don’t see Marody on a skill line with the Oilers opening night.
- So Marody has no chance? If Yamamoto were lost to an offer sheet, or there is an injury, I suspect Holland would sign Chiasson.
- How does Marody get to the NHL from here? Suspect it involves waivers, either to a new NHL team or back to Bakersfield. A mid-season recall and some scoring success on arrival would be the clearest path available in my opinion.
- Why do you hate Marody? I think he can play in the NHL but he needs some luck. If you look at the list above, and see how many slow boats (Maroon, Purcell, others) it is easy to see there’s a path to the NHL. It takes patience.
- Maroon was in the NHL at 20 and scored 27 goals at 25. He was 23 on the night of his NHL debut, and Maroon turned 30 less than a month after scoring goal No. 27 for the 2016-17 Oilers.
- Marody is 30 now. No, he is 24.
- But you hate him. It’s clear. Imagine the NHL as 736 talented people standing in a bubble. Now, imagine the AHL as 850 (unlimited rosters) talented people who for some reason aren’t currently in the NHL. Some may be too young or too or old, or not quite good enough to make the NHL. But the second bubble, the AHL bubble, houses some (I’ll say 150) men who could slide into the NHL bubble and stay there on merit. Marody is one of those players. He needs to find a situation (and a coach) who values what he brings. Marody is more skilled than Benson, is RH’d and can play centre. He has more utility. I think he’ll eventually play in the NHL for a few seasons, but it may not be Edmonton.
- How many NHL games will Marody play? 234. How the hell do I know?
- You know, you’re kind of a dink. It’s been said, yes.
- Benson has a better chance? I think so, yes. He didn’t get any help from management this summer, but the depth chart after Hyman-Nuge-Foegele is wide open.
- What does Benson need to do? I think PK success will be a key. Edmonton ran Nuge-Khaira (41 minutes), Haas-Archibald (39 minutes), Khaira-Archibald (22 minutes), Turris-Archibald (17 minutes), Nuge-Yamamoto (17 minutes), Nuge-Shore (16 minutes in half a season) and Draisaitl-Archibald (14 minutes) one year ago. He’ll get a shot in preseason to PK, maybe with Nuge or Shore or Derek Ryan. If he has success there, opportunities to play at five on five will emerge.
- What about Brendan Perlini? Perlini is opposite Benson in that he’s a big, fast man who can score goals. He is an uncertain checker though and that’s a lot to overcome in the role Tippett will audition him for. In my opinion, Benson and Perlini aren’t applying for the same job, although one making the team may mean a demotion for the other man.
- Explain. Perlini is the new “Nygard” and that’s a player who can responsibly play depth minutes and chime in a few times a year with a goal. Benson is the new “Foegele” but Holland acquired the actual Foegele this summer.
- Who wins the No. 4 LW job? Opening night? Devin Shore. Longer term? Tyler Benson. Shore’s five on five on ice numbers are poor and have been for a long time. Benson should be able to win the day over a long season.
- What are Benson’s chances? He’s an orphan prospect. Holland could add a PTO today that would put him lower on the depth chart. I don’t count Benson’s skating issues as eternal damnation, but he doesn’t shoot the puck much and passing wingers are not a team need in Edmonton. Benson needs to reinvent himself, going from a terrific playmaking winger with the ability to win battles to a two-way winger who can forecheck aggressively and play a regular PK shift.
- Can he get there? Given the opportunity.
- Will he get the chance in Edmonton? We’re about to find out.
- Could he have a Teddy Purcell career? I don’t think he’ll score 24 goals in a season, as Purcell did, but yes, I think he could play 571 NHL games and average 15-29-44 per 82 games.