The Edmonton Oilers might be having a rough season, but the Oilers’ AHL affiliate, the Bakersfield Condors are playing great hockey.
At this moment, the Condors are in first place in the Pacific Division and have a record of 36-17-2. The Condors are being powered by a strong offensive core. The Condors’ top point producer is left-winger Tyler Benson. Benson is a rookie and has shown great development this season in Bakersfield.
Recently, I was on Sean Tierney’s tableau profile and I noticed a chart that I hadn’t seen before. It’s Tierney’s Likelihood of Making The NHL (stats from prospect-stats.com) visual. In this particular visual, Tierney is looking to identify which AHLers are most likely to make the NHL. So, I played around with his visual and decided to hone in on the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL prospects. At the top of the list for forwards, you see Benson. He’s had a great season in the AHL and he’s still relatively young. If he plays his cards right, he could be playing in Edmonton next season.
After looking at Tierney’s visual, I dove right in and decided to take an in-depth look at the left-winger.
This season, Edmonton, Alberta native Benson has been outstanding. Per the tweet below from @OilersPain, Benson had a slow start to the season. In his first 24 games, he was able to score 3 goals and 13 assists with most of his success coming on the power-play.
But, in the last 32 games, the soon to be 21-year-old (March 15, 1998 – his birthdate) has been lights out. He’s managed to total 8 goal and 26 assists in the last 32. In addition, he owns a rate of 1.06 point per game and 0.656 even strength point per game.
Tyler Benson, 2018-19 AHL Season
First 24 Games
3G-13A-16P (0.667 PPG)
ES 2G-8A-10P (0.417 ES PPG)
Last 32 Games
8G-26A-34P (1.06 PPG)
ES 8G-13A-21P (0.656 ES PPG)
Finally healthy and tracking well. Not a matter of if but when.
— Weebo (@OilersPain) March 12, 2019
When you look at the AHL top point producers, Benson is tied for 18th in points alongside Chris Mueller and Cal O’Reilly. It’s also worth while to mention that even though Benson isn’t a top 5 point producer in the AHL, that very few AHLers under the age of 22 sit in the top 20 points list. In fact, there are only three other AHLers who are under the age of 22 that sit higher than him on the list. Jeremy Bracco (Toronto Maple Leafs prospect), Drake Batherson (Ottawa Senators prospect) and Alex Barre-Boulet (Tampa Bay Lighting prospect) are higher up on the list, but arguably all four players will have a tremendous amount of success at the NHL level.
The Benson Eye Test
In the video below that Matt Mosewich (@EDMFutureWatch) shared on twitter, you can see Benson setting up Cooper Marody for a goal. In this particular clip, it’s evident that Benson might not be the fastest player on the ice, but he’s comfortable and composed when carrying the puck from zone to zone. After his offensive zone entry, Benson evades San Jose Barracuda defenseman Keaton Middleton. He steers around Middleton towards the boards and is able to pass him right by. Once he’s in the clear, he ends up making a backhand pass to Marody. The pass helps position Marody up nicely for a Condors goal.
The drive, the dish, the finish.
— Matt Mosewich (@EDMFutureWatch) March 10, 2019
It’s evident from this clip, that Benson doesn’t have a shoot-first mentality. Benson could have tried to shoot at the net, but he was able to identify that Marody had a better opportunity for success. Benson’s vision and play-making is top-notch. If he can keep up his performance the rest of the way, perhaps, the Oilers might be able to plug him on the second line next season alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Nugent-Hopkins doesn’t have quality wingers at this time and could use a solid play-maker like Benson at his side.
stats from prospect-stats.com, eliteprospects.com, theAHL.com, and @OilersPain
visual from Sean Tierney
featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals