BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Hockey scouts see the negatives first. As a result of irrespective of what number of positives there are, one big flaw can negate all the things.
So, once you ask a long-time scout about Tyler Benson — the one Bakersfield ahead with an opportunity to really affect the Edmonton Oilers roster as quickly as subsequent season — and he seems to be over his glasses at you and says, “Do you suppose he can skate nicely sufficient to play within the NHL?”
What he’s actually saying is, he doesn’t suppose Benson can.
The Oilers are too gradual, particularly amongst their forwards. However they’re desperately shy on excessive pedigree wingers. Benson is particular, however his skating shouldn’t be.
He’s heard all of it earlier than. Though he’ll remind you: he could also be 21, however all that point he missed to harm makes him extra like 18 or 19 with regards to his improvement.
“These two years I missed, it damage my velocity. If I can maintain doing what I do in the summertime, maintain getting stronger, and I’ll maintain getting sooner,” he guarantees.
In fact, Benson believes in himself. However what bodes nicely is the assumption those that play with him within the American Hockey League have within the participant.
And, in fact, his fixed, constant manufacturing — a powerful instance coming in double time beyond regulation on Saturday night time, when he helped to avoid wasting the Condors’ season with an ideal cross to Josh Currie on the winner.
“The performs he makes, the imaginative and prescient he has … You’ll be able to’t educate that. You’re born with that stuff, and he has it,” Currie mentioned. “I don’t suppose most individuals notice how exhausting it’s to supply on this league. For a man to come back up right here (from junior) and be nearly a degree per recreation? That, to me, is unbelievable. I don’t suppose he will get sufficient credit score on that.”
So, right here’s the deal on Benson: an Edmonton child who went from in search of Distinctive Participant standing as a bantam to a second-round draft decide after a collection of (principally) bizarre accidents value him months and months of developmental time. He has NHL imaginative and prescient, and may cross the puck on an NHL degree. That’s the reason, in his first season of professional hockey with Bakersfield, he completed second in AHL rookie scoring with 15-51-66 in 68 video games. That’s two factors behind a participant who performed six extra video games than Benson did.
“Everybody goes to the apparent: his passing expertise,” begins his coach, Jay Woodcroft. “And he can cross the puck in ways in which most gamers can not. He can cross it inside his tools (mimics pulling the puck tight to his skates and making a cross). He can cross on his backhand in addition to his forehand. There’s a imaginative and prescient about him, as a result of he performs one or two steps forward of most gamers.
“What he doesn’t get credit score for is his competitiveness and his chew. Or for the subtleties in his recreation. His board work. His willingness to get soiled to seek out success.”
Tyler Benson, pictured above with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors, was chosen by the Edmonton Oilers with the 32nd decide within the 2016 NHL Draft. (Mark Nessia/Bakersfield Condors)We requested Currie what it’s about Benson’s recreation that followers wouldn’t see. However gamers do.
“Some guys, after they come out of the battle, they take a second to look and see the place (their teammates) are. However he simply is aware of the place I’m going to be; he simply is aware of the place the open man is,” Currie mentioned. “You simply can’t educate it. His work down low actually separates him, after which having the ability to discover that man in a cut up second … It’s unbelievable.”
None of that interprets on the NHL degree, nonetheless, when you’re not fast sufficient to get to that puck down low forward of the defenceman. You’ll be able to’t win a board battle that you simply present up late for, proper?
Oilers historical past is filled with Invoice McDonalds, Dan Curries and Anton Landers, who mastered the American Hockey League however had been lacking an ingredient required to assist on the NHL degree. Benson is assured he’ll catch up in his improvement, and he’ll be a participant.
“I believe there’s a number of room for me to enhance,” he mentioned. “Final summer time was the primary summer time I used to be in a position to practice in three years. That was a number of exercises missed. There may be numerous room for enchancment for me.”
He feels “100 per cent now. I really feel nice on the market on the ice,” and he’ll spend the summer time with the Oilers skating guru, David Pelletier.
Ask anybody down right here they usually have little question that Benson will probably be an NHL participant.
“I don’t suppose he’s anyplace close to his ceiling,” Woodcroft mentioned. “For me, whereas he’s missed some prime years of improvement, now he’s going via precisely what younger gamers must undergo within the playoffs. In a person’s league. Towards a tricky opponent. Within the month of Might.
“Whereas he missed some prime time in his private improvement, he’s in an awesome spot the place he’s at proper now.”
And so are his linemates, as Currie would attest.