Okay, maybe it’s too soon to put someone who played less than 50 NHL games in the same “ghost” category as I did with Dustin Penner and Justin Schultz. But with the news of Tyler Benson leaving the Oilers organization last week, let’s discuss a prospect that a lot of fans had high hopes for and wanted to see have an NHL career in Edmonton.
It’s been historically a challenge for this franchise to find talent in the Draft outside of the first round. Benson was picked in the second round at 32nd overall in 2016 and was writing a great junior career for himself. He was drafted 1st overall by the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League Draft of 2013. In 190 WHL games, he posted 61 goals and 123 assists for 184 points. He won a bronze medal for Team Canada in the IIHF World U18 Championship as well as a gold medal in another U18 tournament, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He would continue looking solid for the Bakersfield Condors in the American Hockey League, putting up 43 goals and 133 assists for 176 points in 217 AHL games.
He scored his first NHL goal on February 22nd of 2022, in a home game against the Minnesota Wild, one of only 3 points in 38 NHL games. Unfortunately, he could not translate his offensive prowess from junior into a permanent NHL roster spot. In the 2023 preseason, he was doing spectacular. He was putting up points, he was improving his footspeed. He looked like he would finally catch a break and become a full-time member of the Edmonton Oilers. Then he got injured near the very end of the preseason, and we would never see that version of Benson again.
He just signed a one-year AHL contract with the Henderson Silver Knights, the primary affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights. As I alluded to earlier in this article, Tyler Benson was a prospect Oilers fans were very high on and who they wanted to succeed. A local Edmonton boy, a pretty high draft pick, and has good junior stats. Even if he were just a bottom-six forward for the Oilers, what if he’d been the next Fernando Pisani? For now, we’re happy he can get a fresh start somewhere else. But he may end up being a division rival if the change of scenery does him really well.