Tyler Benson is somewhat of a household name to NHL draft enthusiasts, and likely the most well-known player ranked towards the end of the first round by scouting editorials. He is currently 28th overall on our McKeens Top 30 list.
Considered a potential top 10 pick in his pre-draft year, and this season gracing CHL top prospects commercials in an effort to sell the game in Vancouver, however Benson could conceivably be flirting with mid second-round status.
Which begs the question, what gives?
Why was a player so highly touted coming into his WHL draft year and even considered for 'exceptional' status, eventually opting instead for Kelowna’s hockey academy Pursuit of Excellence, be steadily sliding down the rankings?
Injuries have played a factor in the decline, and he has been inconsistent at times. However, he has also had to deal with the trials of being a 17-year-old captain on a WHL club that has had its' fair share of difficulties both on and off the ice over the past two seasons. This team was supposed to be better; as they were, after all, one of two finalists bidding to host the Memorial Cup this year - with Red Deer ultimately winning out.
Benson is dealing with this being his draft year and gunning to put up better stats, and is on the front lines in a difficult daily grind helping the Giants to right the ship. You would likely never hear a player use this as an excuse, but inevitably these factors would wear on any teenager.
As I’ve observed scouts get frustrated while looking for more from Benson, I’ve tried to look beyond the game results. The notion he peaked in Bantam has been (unfairly) thrown around in some WHL circles, however there are cases when a player's struggles can be a by-product of poor situations. I see a physically and mentally mature player with some pretty strong transferable skills and a shot at the NHL.
Tyler Benson, (2016), LW-C
Although not a game-breaker when it comes to speed, he has above-average acceleration and ability to create separation .. This comes from a powerful lower body that produces a strong and stable stride. His power aids in fending off checkers .. Continues to push the pace especially when carrying the puck; often has good solo efforts in transition .. Uses his body well to guard and hold off defenders and keep them on his back and away from the puck .. This flows from strong, precise edge work where more lower body strength is obvious .. Stops and starts make him slippery and tough to defend, especially off the wall, powers through his edges to drive his way to the net and create scoring chances.
A nifty player to watch handling the puck, however won’t wow you with spectacular 1-on-1 dangles .. Uses small areas effectively to develop space in order to make individual plays .. Lines up regularly as a left winger, and works better as a distributor of the puck, utilizing high-end accuracy on both his forehand and backhand passes .. Exhibits soft hands and heads-up play while adopting a quick-strike mentality .. Often uses a high stick grip, which creates a whipping wrist shot that comes off quick and appears hard to read.
Can be accused of looking for a perfect play causing offensive breakdowns or trying to do too much .. Must learn to feed off teammates and help create more offensive synergy throughout his line .. Getting teammates more involved and not shouldering as much responsibility, will only help him grow his own game.
Possesses a physically mature body and excellent strength for his age - finishes hits with authority .. Can be a ferocious body checker (example here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsQW8Cq2XGE) .. Plays with emotion and has been known to cross the line at times getting himself into trouble.
Sports the skill set to develop into a smaller power forward with some offensive upside.
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