Vancouver Giants winger Tyler Benson’s draft season came to an unfortunate end on Feb. 25. The prominent prospect announced he had to shut down his season because of a nagging lower-body injury.
“It has been really tough,” says Benson, who is ranked 21st overall among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service. “I wanted to play the full year and it’s tough to end the year now. I wanted to be there for my team and help them win some games, so it’s a tough situation.”
When healthy, the 6-foot, 196-pound Benson played well in his sophomore season with the Giants. While showcasing his complete game, offensive creativity and strong shot, he racked up nine goals and 28 points in 30 games.
“I felt okay when I was playing,” says the Edmonton, Alta., native. “I wasn’t at 100 per cent when I was playing, so it was frustrating sometimes. I thought I did okay, though, and helped make an impact.”
Even though he’s shown he’s a first-round talent, Benson’s injuries have put into question whether he will don a jersey with a top 30 pick this June in Buffalo. The 17-year-old’s uncertain draft status doesn’t bother him that much, as long he gets his shot at making his NHL dream come true.
“It doesn’t really bother me,” says Benson on where he’s drafted. “Whether it’s the first round or seventh round, it doesn’t really matter. My main goal is to play in the NHL and I just need to get the opportunity to do that.”
Albeit it was three years ago, Benson’s dominant performance in Bantam AAA should bold well for him to NHL scouts. How he tallied 57 markers and 146 points in 33 contests with the SSAC Lions is a testament to his enormous potential.
“It was a really exciting season for me,” says Benson, whom Vancouver drafted first overall in the 2013 WHL bantam draft. “All the media attention, it was a good experience and helped me understand what to expect moving forward. There were also a lot of highs that year and not many lows. It made it a fun year for me.”
1. Do you look up to someone in the NHL?
“I like guys like (Dallas Stars’) Jamie Benn and (Los Angeles Kings’) Dustin Brown. Players who play physical and can also put up a lot of offense.”
2. Who is your favourite NHL team?
“The Oilers just because I grew up watching them in Edmonton.”
3. Do you have an arena you look forward to playing in on the road?
“I like playing in Portland (at the Moda Center). I’ve had some success there and enjoy playing there.”
4. Your bother, Cole Benson, played four years in the WHL with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Did he help guide you into the competitive hockey landscape?
“He helped me a lot at a young age. He helped me know what to expect in hockey… and I got into hockey because I enjoyed watching him when I was little.
5. You spent your 2013-14 season with the Pursuit of Excellence program in Kelowna, B.C. What was your experience like there?
“It was a good experience. I developed a lot physically that year and enjoyed playing there.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen