In the first of what will hopefully be a recurring post, I examine three later first round draft prospects: Tyler Benson, Charlie McAvoy and Julien Gauthier.
All Season long I will occasionally speak on a couple of top prospects eligible for the 2016 Draft. Each post I will go in depth on 3 or 4 guys that have caught my eye, and also comment on draft rankings as various services publish their own lists. This series will not so much focus on the race for first overall, I will leave that for the major sports publications to cover. Instead focus will be placed on prospects throughout the draft whom interest me personally. Since this is an Oilerscentric blog it will also touch briefly on why the Oilers might or might not be interested in each player that is covered
Tyler Benson is a stout LW, hovering around 6’ and 200 Ibs, who plays for the Vancouver Giants in the WHL. A former 1st overall pick in the WHL bantam draft, Benson accumulated 45 points in 62 games in his first full season with the giants last year. Considering the struggles the Giants had last year, finishing near the bottom of the league, this year was considered a success by many. Known as a fierce competitor, Benson gets involved physically and has been compared to Dustin Brown in terms of playing style.
Although he didn’t tear up the league offensively last year, he did happen to impress his head coach, and former coach of the Winnipeg Jets, Claude Noel:
Benson is a 16-year-old man really. Watch him play. Watch him play. He’s physical. He’s strong on pucks. He’s really clever. His mind is at another level. His hockey sense is tremendous. He plays like a man
He’s surprises me how good he is at this level at this age. It’s not what I see him do here, but what I think he can do and what I think he can achieve. I see past what he is here. My first thought is, ‘Can you imagine what he’d be like playing with players who are 22, 23 years old and are really clever? He thinks the game at a really good level. He has a tremendous feel for where people are. His pursuit is excellent. He’s physical, he’s strong on puck. He plays with a lot of will. His mind is really sharp. You put him, for example, with a Sidney Crosby or a Steven Stamkos? Those guys think at a different level than others. He’s got some really good game.
High praise from any coach but to be taken with a grain of salt. The key here is that Claude Noel recognizes that he has the intelligence to play with elite players, something lacking on the Giants roster.
The Oilers organization has historically shown a penchant for hometown heroes, and Benson is an Edmonton boy. Moreover the Oilers lack much physicality among the top of their roster up front, and every team wants players with hockey IQ.
Offensive right-handed defender who is playing this season with the Boston University Terriers. Last season with the U.S. National U18 team he posted 7-33-40 in 63 games played. More of a passer than a shooter but that puck moving ability is his calling card. As shown in the rankings considered one of the top D prospects available in a draft considered to be even deeper than 2015. Standing 6’ tall and weighing in between 186-211Ibs, depending on the source but most recently he’s been listed above the 200 marker. Coming from the U.S. he hasn’t gotten the in-depth attention Benson has, however all scouting reports on him show that he is a strong puck mover with good defensive upside as well.
The Oilers certainly could use a right-handed puck mover on the back-end, with most of their young dmen being left handed. If after this season shakes down the Oilers have a pick in his range he deserves serious consideration. Although not tall, he still fits Chiarelli’s vision of a heavy team, and can advance the puck up ice using both his skating or passing ability.
A big Right winger playing for Val-D’or in the QMJHL listed at 6’4” and 214 pounds. Gauthier was the only draft eligible player to be invited to Canada’s Summer Development Camp for the World Juniors, even though many lists have several Canadian players ranked above him. In his second season in the Q, Gauthier managed 38 goals, 35 Assists for 73 points in 68 games. Look for him to build upon that in his third season in the League. He is big and strong skates exceptionally well and has a strong shot. According to futureconsiderations he can struggle with consistency and the pace of play, but he still possesses several great tools.
He is a big, strong winger with a powerful stride and great top speed. He is tough to contain when he is at the top of his game. Consistency can be an issue. An enormous prospect with many impressive pro traits, such as a rocket of a shot and terrific vision in traffic. Can be creative with the puck and set up his teammates with well-timed passes. Struggles with the pace of play in the Q at times.
A late 1997 birthday look for him to potentially impress at the World Juniors, and be one of the league leaders in the QMJHL this year.
In terms of prospect depth the Oilers are weak on right-wing. Although he may be hard pressed to earn a top 6 role with Yakupov, Eberle, and possibly Draisaitl playing RW, this is a weak spot in the prospect pool and as such should be addressed, and Gauthier would definitely be an improvement.