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NHL Draft

Edmonton native Benson happy to be drafted by Oilers

Forward taken in second round by hometown team after injury-plagued season

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

BUFFALO -- Tyler Benson slipped on an Edmonton Oilers jersey at the NHL Draft on Saturday and just like that, a season marred by injuries didn't seem so bad.

Benson said being selected by his hometown team in the second round (No. 32), made it easy to forget a season in which he played just 30 games.

"Definitely kind of makes it worth it," Benson said. "Pretty special moment for me to put on this jersey and I'm pretty happy."

Benson, who plays for the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, had his season cut short because of osteitis pubis, an inflammation around the pelvis where the pubic bones meet, and caused pain in his groin and hip flexors. He played two games after Dec. 30.

He also missed the first month of the season because of surgery to remove a cyst from his tailbone.

"This whole past year I don't think I had many games healthy this year," Benson said. "Just a groin/hip flexor area and issues affecting my skating a lot. I just needed to rest and work with physio. Just need to strengthen the areas a lot to make sure it's healthy. [In a] lot of my games this year I wasn't playing to my full potential."

Benson was productive when he was able to play. He helped Canada win the gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August and tied for the team scoring lead with five points in four games. He also had 28 points in 30 games with Vancouver. NHL Central Scouting had the 5-foot-11, 197-pound forward No. 24 on its final ranking of North American skaters.

"When he is on his game, Tyler plays a hard, physical game with skill," Central Scouting's John Williams said. "Not what you would consider a power forward because he is just average in size. Real good hands. Can score and make plays. Certainly has an edge to his game."

The injuries could have made teams wary, but Benson had a good feeling about the Oilers.

"I had a lot of conversations with them this year," said Benson, who counts the Oilers' run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final as one of his happiest hockey memories. "I was working with their team doctors throughout the year about this injury, so they had no issues about my injury."

Benson said he started skating again last week and hasn't had any recurrences of his injury.

"Just got to keep working out through the summer," he said. "I think once [training] camp comes I'll be able to be ready and show myself well. … I have a routine to stick with. But there should be no issues in the future."

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