Oilers' evolving forward Benson deserves more chances - Sports1
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Oilers’ evolving forward Benson deserves more chances

When the NHL season kicks off in October, it’s hard to imagine Tyler Benson going three weeks in a row — let alone nearly three — without a goal and staying on the Edmonton Oilers’ roster.

Tyler Benson, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Even now, after all the unusual twists and turns of this pandemic-affected NHL season, it’s hard to believe. But the 2021-22 season is all about reinventing Benson, the erstwhile scorer who has found new life as the quintessential depth forward.

After making 17 appearances for the Oilers this season, the 23-year-old has just one assist on offense. This is a left winger who played for Edmonton’s Southside Athletic Club at the age of 14. Set Alberta Bantam AAA single-season record Scored 146 points in just 33 games before amassing 184 in his junior career with the Western Hockey League’s Vancouver Giants. Since turning pro, he has set a single-season points record for the Bakersfield Condors and is the all-time assists leader for an AHL team.

But after years of trying to become a scorer, Benson found that the only way he could build a career in the NHL was to be a player who could provide energy, physicality and be seen as a lot — if not more — because he The check is his score.

Benson’s role in Oilers increases

Not only has Benson successfully linked up with the Oilers, but he now claims a regular role on their roster.After a few rough nights earlier in the season, his new skin looks increasingly comfortable, and the Oilers coach Dave Tippet Seems to like what he’s seeing, elevating Benson to Edmonton’s third line this week for Monday’s (Jan. 3) games against the New York Rangers and Wednesday (Jan. 5) against the Toronto Maple Leafs .

Despite Edmonton’s 4-1 loss in New York, it wasn’t because of a lack of positive contributions from Benson, who has what is widely regarded as his best NHL game to date. On the big stage at Madison Square Garden, he played aggressive but defensively responsible hockey and showed he didn’t lose his offensive touch, earning his first of the 2021-22 season with a nice pass. one cent. Ryan McLeod The only goal for the Oilers. Benson finished the night with 1 assist, 1 block and 1 hit to finish with a 1-pointer at 13:38.

Benson has played more than 10 minutes in each of his last four appearances. In his first 13 games of the season, he hasn’t hit double figures once.

Benson’s long, winding road to the NHL

This version of Benson may not be what the Oilers envisioned when they signed him at No. 32nd Overall, in 2016. The Edmonton product stood out in an injury-out season with the Giants, where he still had 28 points in 30 games.

Benson’s first NHL coffee, one assist and minus-1 rating in seven games with the Oilers in February 2020 wasn’t all that hot. The 6-foot wing didn’t even play a game with the Oilers last season and thought so little about their future that he wasn’t protected in this summer’s Seattle Krakens expansion draft.

related: Oilers need to find silver lining in losing Larson

Many thought the Kraken would choose Benson, but Seattle staged a coup and signed Oilers unrestricted free agent (UFA) guard Adam Larson.The Oilers then signed Benson One year, two-way renewal This actually represented his last chance in Edmonton.

Benson offers reason to be excited

There are plenty of players who lit up the scoreboard as teenagers, only to be forced to reinvent themselves when the offense didn’t transition to the pros. There are many more players who have failed to adapt to non-scoring roles.

It speaks volumes about how radically Benson has reinvented himself, and is a testament to his dedication that he has grown so much while rebuilding himself more or less on the fly. The young forward is getting more opportunities, and it’s exciting to think of the player he could be as he gains more experience in the role and is able to further build on other aspects of his game.

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Brian is an Edmonton-based sports writer and broadcaster. His experience includes working as a sports reporter for the Edmonton Sun, where he covered the Edmonton Oil Kings’ 2013-14 Memorial Cup championship season.

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