Healthy Tyler Benson aims to crack Edmonton Oilers lineup

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The Edmonton Oilers might finally have an internal solution in their search for depth scoring.

“The main goal coming into camp is to be with the Oilers this year,” said forward Tyler Benson.

Benson, 21, was drafted 32nd overall by the Oilers in 2016. After a couple of injury-riddled seasons with Vancouver in the WHL, Benson has been healthy for the last two summers.

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“I feel a lot better, just being (able) to work out all summer long these last two years has been huge for me. When I wasn’t able to work out, I didn’t feel right going onto the ice,” Benson said.

Good health propelled Benson to the be the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors’ leading scorer last season, as he racked up 66 points. But it’s not just Benson’s offence that makes him a candidate to crack the Oilers roster.

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“He took a huge step in his 200-foot game. Everyone always talks about the points and the visions and plays that he can make. But the subtle little intricacies in his game, the wall work, his decision-making at both blue lines, came a long way,” Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft said.

“He surrounds himself with top people who can push him in different ways. He’s trying to find any little thing he can do to fulfill his dream of playing in the National Hockey League.”

“I feel confident right now,” Benson said. “It was a good year last year. I’m pretty happy with how it went.”

The Oilers rookies will play the Calgary Flames rookies Saturday in Red Deer and then on Tuesday in Calgary. However, 2017 first-round pick Kailer Yamamoto isn’t expected to play as he recovers from wrist surgery.

“I think I need a little bit more time. The doctors said I’m not quite there yet,” Yamamoto said.