Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com has submitted his rankings of the Top 30 draft-eligible prospects of 2016. Check back each day as we prepare for the 2016 NHL Draft, which will be held at First Niagara Center here in Buffalo on June 24 and 25.
#27. Tyler Benson – LW, Vancouver (WHL)
|(Photo Credit: Getty Images) |
A hard-nosed leader with a solidly built frame, Benson represents a highly-skilled, mature two-way player whose draft stock remains somewhat stagnant due to durability concerns.
The first overall pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Benson enjoyed a mostly injury-free 2014-15 campaign, notching 14 goals and 45 points in 62 games, but 2015-16 was a much different story.
After positioning himself as a firm first-round target entering the season, Benson posted 28 points (9+19) in 30 games for an under-performing Giants squad before getting shut down for the season in February to surgically address a lingering groin issue.
Watching Benson execute shift-to-shift renders an excellent skater with a heavy shot and a keen playmaking sense in all three zones of the ice. He knows his way around the defensive zone and does a good job getting his stick down with his head up on the breakout. He has a clearly defined edge to his game, making a projection as a gritty yet skilled top-six NHL forward a real possibility.
It’s easy to chalk up his more pedestrian efforts this past season to the nagging groin injury. Pending medical clearance moving forward, many in the scouting community believe that Benson showed enough as a player when healthy to maintain his status as a solid first-round prospect.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline and an updated organizational depth chart, check out Kris Baker’s website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).