It was a thrilling moment for Edmonton native Tyler Benson Saturday morning when he was selected in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers.
Benson was selected 32 overall in the second round.
He grew-up playing for the Southside Athletic Club in Alberta’s capital, where he racked up a record 146 points in 33 games during the 2012-2013.
“It’s a pretty special moment [for] a lot of my family, myself. Just growing up being an Oiler fan, it’s a pretty special moment putting on this jersey,” Benson said.
“Once they called my name I had a big smile on my face and I’m happy about it.”
The left-winger was drafted 1st overall in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft by the Vancouver Giants.
During his first full season with the Giants in 2014-2015, Benson had a solid 45 points in 62 games.
Last season, he was named Vancouver’s captain, but missed more than half of the campaign because of injuries. He needed surgery to remove a cyst near his tailbone before the season started. He missed more time after he returned from the surgery because of a lower body injury. Benson ended up playing in 30 games, putting nine goals and 28 points.
“It was just groin, hip flexer kind of area, issue. It was just kind of affecting my skating a lot. So I just needed a rest and work with physio. Just needed to strengthen the area a lot just to make sure it was healthy,” Benson explained.
Benson said there shouldn’t be any issues with the injury in the future.
Prior to his injury riddled season, the 6’0″, 200 lbs winger was considered a first round selection, but his stock dropped throughout the season, opening the door for the Oilers to select him Saturday in the second round.
“I would have liked to be able to play this year to prove myself, to be able to have a chance to go higher, but I guess I’m pretty happy to be able to be putting on this jersey,” Benson said.
With the 63 overall pick in the third round, Edmonton selected defenceman Markus Niemelainen. At 6’4″, 198 lbs, Niemelainen is considered to be a mobile blueliner for his size.
He moved from Finland to Canada last year to play for the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit, where he had 27 points in 65 games last season.
The Oilers drafted two more defencemen in the third round, selecting Matthew Cairns 84 overall and Filip Berglund 91st overall.
Cairns played for the Georgetown Raiders of the Ontario Junior A Hockey League last season, where he had 33 points in 46 games. He’ll be attending Cornell University of the NCAA next season.
Berglund is a 6’3″, 209 lbs Swedish blueliner who played for Skellefteå AIK J20 last season. He had 41 points in 43 games.
In the fifth round the Oilers had two picks, where they used to select goalie Dylan Wells from the Peterborough Petes of the OHL and left-winger Graham McPhee from the USA U-18 team of the USHL.
Edmonton finished the draft with the selection of Finnish centre Aapeli Rasanen in the sixth round and defenceman Vincent Desharnais in the seventh and final round.