2015-16 Team: Vancouver Giants (#17)
Date of Birth: March 15, 1998
Place of Birth: Edmonton, AB
Ht: 6’0” Wt: 195 lbs
Position: Left Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 first-year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking: 27th (June)
- THW Alternate: 30th (June)
- THW War Room: 28th (June)
- Future Considerations: 29th (June)
- ISS: unranked (June)
- Bob McKenzie: 39th (June)
- Craig Button: 44th (June)
Every season, there’s one prominent draft-eligible player that free-falls down the rankings throughout the season. This season, that player may be Tyler Benson.
Benson’s been a highly-touted player since he was in bantam, and he was the first overall selection in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. He made his full-time debut in 2014-15 and was one of Vancouver’s better players as a rookie. He was expected to continue his progression this season and emerge as one of the top draft-eligible players in the WHL. Instead, he missed the vast majority of the season with injuries and saw his stock topple due to the absence.
All-in-all, Benson missed 42 games due to a lower-body injury that required early-season surgery, then kept recurring until the Giants shut him down for the season. A promising season for a very promising young talent was derailed before it even really got out of the gate.
Despite the potential durability concern, Benson is a highly-talented player. He’s drawn comparisons to John Tavares in terms of his skating, mobility, and general on-ice awareness. He’s extremely versatile and was used in a ton of different situations – often with success – when he was healthy. He’s got a ton of upside, but the challenge for scouting and management teams is slotting him based on this season versus other draft-eligible players. Just within the WHL circles, there’s tons of debate where he fits in against someone like Brett Howden (who played a ton of hockey over the past year).
It’s unquestionable that Benson has high-end talent and upside, but he hasn’t been able to put together a large enough sample of work in the WHL over the past year to effectively stack up against the higher-end players in the draft. He’ll likely slide into the late first round (or early in the second). If he can put his injury troubles behind him, he’ll be a heck of an addition to any team’s prospect group.
NHL Draft Projection:
Benson’s slide down this season’s draft rankings will be abated, somewhat, by his talent. Most likely he’ll go late first round or early in the second round.
“There have been nights where he’s been better than those numbers, and nights where he’s blended in with the pack. It’s difficult to judge him off pure stats. He has a mature, two-way game, something similar, maybe, to the Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat.”
–Steve Ewen, The Province
“The combination of his thick 6-foot, 196-pound build, elite skating ability, strong shot and physical edge gives him the right skill set to develop into a high-end power forward.”
–Kelly Friesen, Buzzing the Net
- Excellent skater
- Strong hockey sense
- Accurate passer
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Potential injury concerns
- Defensive game isn’t quite as developed as his offensive skills
If Benson can find some consistency, he could be a top-six winger to the tune of Jonathan Huberdeau or Patrick Sharp. He’s probably talented enough to, at least, be a third-line winger with power-play upside.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive 8/10, Defensive 7/10
Benson has been a staple for Team Canada thus far in his young career. He’s appeared in two Under-17 tournaments (for Canada Pacific and Canada Black), the Under-18 World Championship and the Ivan Hlinka memorial tournament. He has a Hlinka gold, a U17 silver and a U18 bronze on his resume.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.