'I'm just trying to make the team': Homegrown Benson seeking Oilers breakthrough
Published Tuesday, September 17, 2019 4:05PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 17, 2019 6:46PM MDT
He's a former junior hockey standout who just couldn't stay healthy, but Tyler Benson believes this is the season to turn the page on his injury-riddled past.
"This year compared to last year I feel more comfortable. I feel like I belong a little bit more ... just kind of being around the guys again," he said.
Benson, 21, is entering his second pro season after leading the Oilers' American Hockey League farm club in scoring last season, recording 66 points in 68 games for the Bakersfield Condors.
That strong showing caught the eye of new Oilers coach Dave Tippett who says the left winger will have a chance to crack the Oilers opening night lineup.
"He knows he's one of those guys in a group of players that might have a chance to make the roster," he said. "We want to make sure he gets every opportunity to do that."
Benson was selected 32nd overall by the Oilers in 2016 but has seen his potential limited by injuries.
"He's a young player that had a real good first year in the American League," said Tippett. "[He's] probably a little bit behind in the development because of the two years he missed before with some injuries."
For the Edmonton-born Benson, this season is not only a chance to bounce back, but also an opportunity to do it in his hometown.
"I'm just trying to make the team wherever it is but right now it's in Edmonton. That's where I want to play," he said.
"If I'm able to wear this jersey in an NHL game it would be a very unreal moment."
With files from Adam Cook