Even with Adam Larsson added to the mix, the Edmonton Oilers’ organization is short on right-handed defensemen.
It remains to be seen how long it will take for Matthew Benning to make the NHL jump, but the Oilers took a step in the right (right-handed defenseman) direction by signing him to a two-year deal on Saturday.
In case you have some jokes at the ready … yes, Benning is related to Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning. The occasionally lampooned executive is his uncle. His father Brian also enjoyed an NHL career.
The Edmonton Journal’s Bruce McCurdy views the move as the equivalent to landing a “free draft pick.” It might be a nice perk for Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli to land Benning being that he was a 2012 sixth-rounder of the Boston Bruins.
McCurdy indicates that Benning, 22, could rank fairly high among the Oilers’ defensive prospects right off the bat, even if scarce options play a role along with whatever the blueliner brings to the table:
This is the fourth free agent signing of an NCAA player by the Oilers this off-season, though the first involving a defenceman. Previously, highly-regarded forward Drake Caggiula had signed along with right winger Patrick Russell and netminder Nick Ellis. All four are in age 22-23 and well-positioned to make an impact on the pro ranks in the near future, even as their NHL potential is an open book. But collectively they add some meat on the bones of a franchise whose organizational depth has been questionable.
Interestingly, McCurdy notes that the Canucks were in the running for Benning’s services.
(Waits for a few more Jim Benning jokes.)
Seems like the Northeastern University product received a decent deal, relatively speaking: