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Edmonton Oilers player review and 2023-24 preview: Tyler Benson
By Cam Lewis6 months ago
Every off-season, a handful of players who haven’t established themselves at the NHL level but are too old to be considered prospects are released to the open market as Group VI free agents.
Among them this summer was Tyler Benson, a local product who the Oilers selected in the second round of the 2016 draft.
Benson became a star in Edmonton when he set the Alberta Bantam AAA scoring record with 146 points across 33 games in 2012-13. The Vancouver Giants selected Benson with the first overall pick in the WHL draft and he broke into the league with 45 points over 62 games as a rookie in 2014-15.
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Heading into his pre-draft season, Benson was considered a prospect who would land in the middle of the first round but an injury-riddled campaign saw his stock drop. Bob McKenzie ranked Benson as his No. 14 prospect in September of 2015 but the Edmonton native fell to No. 39 on McKenzie’s final list in June after putting up 28 points in 30 games.
Despite that, the Oilers leaned into the talent that Benson had displayed in the past and selected him with the No. 32 overall pick. It was a controversial selection considering the players that Edmonton left on the board, including Alex DeBrincat, one of Connor McDavid’s wingers from his time with the Erie Otters.
Benson struggled through more injuries in his post-draft seasons in the WHL but put his name on the map as a top prospect with a huge rookie season in the American Hockey League. He turned pro in 2018-19 and scored 66 points over 68 games for the Bakersfield Condors, good for eighth in league scoring.
Another strong performance from Benson during the 2019-20 season earned him a call-up to the Oilers, where he’d put up one assist in seven games. He started off the pandemic 2020-21 season in Switzerland and returned to the Condors when the AHL started up in January. Benson scored 36 points in 36 games with Bakersfield but didn’t get called up to the big league club.
The Oilers finally gave Benson an extended look at the NHL level in 2021-22 because they didn’t want to risk losing him on waivers. He scored one goal and two points over 29 games and he wound up clearing through waivers in March. Benson played the rest of the season with Bakersfield and wasn’t called up to be among Edmonton’s black aces during their playoff run in the spring.
Benson signed a one-year, two-way contract for the 2022-23 season. He came into training camp as a long shot to crack the roster and wound up suffering a knee injury during the pre-season that completely knocked him out of the picture. Benson scored 23 points over 43 games for the Condors and appeared in only two games for the Oilers.
Tyler Benson Career Statistics…
Benson turned 25 in March and had played fewer than 80 games at the NHL level, so he became a Group VI free agent rather than a restricted free agent this summer.
On the open market for the first time in his career, Benson opted to move on from the Oilers for a change of scenery. He inked a one-year, minor-league contract to play with the Henderon Silver Knights, the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights.
The hope for Benson at this point is that he can have a strong, healthy season at the AHL level and build up his value enough to earn a two-way contract with an NHL club next off-season.
Previously in this series…
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