When I started writing this article, I had it in my mind that Tyler Benson may have been on the outside looking in when it came to a play-in series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
He’s young, inexperienced at the NHL level, and had a small showing in the big leagues this season.
He got his first taste of NHL action this season playing in seven games scoring one assist — a beautiful flutter pass to Josh Archibald in a February 16th game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
His play wasn’t terrible, per se, and his underlying numbers were strong for his limited showing, I really don’t know if it was enough for him to prove he’s ready for a highly intense series like what’s coming against Chicago.
On the other hand, Benson has had two great seasons in the American Hockey League. He’s played 120 games scoring 24 goals and 105 points in that time. In terms of his future development, I see him making the Oilers next season — whenever that starts.
But to be honest, there may be no better time than now for Benson to step in and get some valuable experience. While he’s still young at 22 years old, he and the Oilers might be able to take advantage of a not-so-good Chicago Blackhawks team.
If he’s to draw into the lineup, he’d be playing in the Oilers bottom-six forward group against Chicago’s bottom-six forward group. If you’ve read any other of these what to expect articles, you’ve heard me say Chicago’s bottom-six group isn’t that impressive.
And with that, the Oilers may be right in getting Benson — a playmaker with very strong offensive instincts and passing skills — into a bottom-six scoring position. He played his time this year alongside Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald. There two players who I think can complement Benson’s came.
Sheahan is a responsible two-way center who can help dig out pucks defensively, Benson can be a strong second forward helping in the breakout, while Archibald can use his speed to get the line good clean zone entries. Archibald and Sheahan both chipped in a little bit of offence this season.
Those three may be able to give the Oilers a boost in the secondary scoring ranks that’s always a plus at this time of year.
On Twitter: @zjlaing