Two down, two to go. A few days after signing Drake Caggiula, the Oilers have announced that they’ve given a two-year extension to defender Matt Benning. It’ll be a two-year deal with a $1.9 million cap hit.
Benning was originally drafted by the Boston Bruins during the Peter Chiarelli days in 2012. The Edmonton native opted not to sign with the Bruins and played three years of college hockey for Northeastern University. He signed a two-year entry-level deal with the Oilers in 2016, but slid under-the-radar as Caggiula was the big-name NCAA addition everyone was talking about.
Benning ended up cracking the Oilers as the team had a gaping hole on the right side of its blueline. He had a very good rookie season, posting 15 points in 62 games with a positive shot attempt differential on the team’s third pairing.
I wrote about Benning last month during my RFA profile series. Though he doesn’t have an overwhelming feature to his game, he does a lot of little things — moving the puck out of the defensive zone, covering the middle of the ice, throwing some big hits when necessary — quite well.
Where you can see Benning’s impact, I find, is in his underlying numbers. In his first two seasons in the league, Benning has a +1.8 Corsi For percentage in relation to his teammates. This is while spending a lot of time with Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom, two players who tend to take risks on the ice, whether it be to join the rush or pinch and throw a big hit. Obviously it isn’t a be all, end all piece of analysis, but Benning consistently drives a positive shot attempt differential when on the ice, which is certainly a positive sign.
In my article, I predicted Benning would get a two-year deal worth $2.5 million given some comparables like Mark Pysyk and Derek Forbort. Getting him inked for $1.9 million is solid value for the Oilers. At the worst, they have what they already expect from Benning, which is a capable third-pairing defenceman. But given Benning’s age, he could take a step forward and become more than that too. Regardless, $1.9 million for what Benning has been over his first two seasons is fair value, in my mind.
MATT BENNING’S CAREER SO FAR
Source: Edmonton Oilers, Official Twitter Account, 6/19/2018 – 1:01 pm MST